The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Monday claimed to have solved the murder of TCS employee Esther Anuhya with the arrest of a history-sheeter. The police said this was the same man seen with her in the CCTV camera footage on the day of her disappearance.
Esther, 23, had disappeared after reaching Lokmanya Tilak Terminus from Vijaywada on January 5. Her body was subsequently found in Bhandup on January 16.
According to police sources, the accused has been identified as Chandrabhan Sanap, 28, who has cases of bag lifting and cellphone theft registered against him at police stations in Mumbai and other places of Maharashtra, besides in Madhya Pradesh. His arrest is said to have been a result of technical evidence and intelligence gathered by the police.
Sanap was picked up from outside the Kanjurmarg railway station on Sunday night and was placed under arrest on Monday morning. After being produced in a local court, he was remanded in police custody till March 15.
The accused’s father worked as a porter with the Central Railway and he suffered a paralytic stroke in 2007, after which his porter’s badge was transferred to Sanap. His addiction to liquor and womanising habits made him sell his badge in 2009, after which he started doing odd jobs. He was currently employed as a driver in Nashik,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said in a press conference on Monday.
On the night of January 4, Sanap allegedly had a few drinks with some friends and reached LTT around 4.15 am on January 5 with the intention to steal from passengers. The police said he noticed Esther sitting there and offered to drop her at her Andheri hostel for Rs 300. Esther allegedly agreed and the two went to the parking lot where she realised that he did not have a taxi as he had claimed, but a motorcycle.
Sanap convinced Esther by giving his cell phone number and the licence number of his bike, telling her that she could give the number to whoever she wanted. However, Esther was out of talk time (on her phone) and instead only made a ‘pretend call’, after which she got on the bike. Sanap took her to the Eastern Express highway and stopped on the service road at Bhandup, saying the bike had run out of petrol. He then assaulted her and when she fought back he banged her head on the ground and then strangled her with her stole,” said Maria.\
Leaving the body in the bushes, where it was ultimately found on January 16, Sanap allegedly went to his Kanjurmarg residence and called his friend Nandkishore Sahu whose bike was used in the crime.
Sanap then went back to the scene of the crime around 10.30 am and tried to find Esther’s phone, as he believed that she had stored his cellphone number and the bike number. However, he was unable to find it. After trying to burn the body using petrol, he hitched a ride on a tanker and went to Nashik, the police said.
The police also picked up Sahu from Jharkhand on Monday and brought him to Mumbai. He is being questioned.
Sanap was currently staying in Nashik with his third wife and 14-month-old son. After committing the crime, he allegedly grew a beard and started sporting a red teeka on his forehead to alter his appearance. He also resumed work and had even gone to Karnataka on an assignment. He returned Sunday night, after which he was picked up by the police.