The mystery behind the deaths of nine people in Warangal district, whose bodies were found in a well near a jute mill in Gorekunta village on May 21 and May 22, was solved Tuesday when the police arrested 30-year-old mill worker Sanjay Kumar Yadav for their murders.
Warangal Police Commissioner Dr V Ravinder told The Indian Express that Sanjay, who hails from Bihar and worked at the mill, was living with a woman named Rafika and her three children. Rafika was the niece of Maqsood Alam — whose body was found in the well along with bodies of his wife, daughter, both sons and a grand-daughter. The bodies of three other migrant workers — Sriram and Shyam from Bihar and Shakeel Ahmed from Tripura — who were not related to the family were also found in the well.
Maqsood had migrated from West Bengal 20 years ago and was living with his family in a room in the jute mill’s godown. Police said Rafika had come to Maqsood’s house with her three children about five years ago and he had helped her get a job at the jute mill. She also used to cook for Sanjay, who used to live nearby. The two then got into a relationship and subsequently, Rafika and her children had moved to Sanjay’s house.
According to Ravinder, “Recently, Rafika scolded Sanjay for misbehaving with her daughter and admonished him for trying to lure the teenage girl while he had promised to marry her. That is when he decided to eliminate Rafika. When Maqsood and his family members threatened to go to the police, he eliminated them too. Shyam, Sriram and Shakeel Ahmed became victims too because they were present at the godown on May 20 evening when Sanjay went to eliminate the Alam family.’’
On March 7, Sanjay and Rafika left for West Bengal in a Garib Rath train, reportedly after he convinced her that they will get married after talking to her relatives in that state.
However, Sanjay gave her buttermilk laced with sleeping pills and strangled her at about 3 am while the train was passing through West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. He then dumped the body out of the train. The Railway Police at Tadepalligudem had registered a case after her body was found. They had not been able to ascertain her identity at the time.
Meanwhile, Sanjay deboarded at Rajahmundry and returned to Warangal. He then convinced Rafika’s three children that their mother had stayed back in West Bengal and would return later.
However, Maqsood and his wife Nisha started questioning Sanjay on Rafika’s whereabouts. They even called West Bengal and found that Rafika had never made it back to her relatives’ house. They started threatening Sanjay saying they would approach the police.
Maqsood reportedly lost contact with Sanjay after the nationwide Covid-driven lockdown was announced on March 24. He was able to re-establish contact around May15 and once again threatened Sanjay with police action if he did not reveal Rafika’s whereabouts.
On May 20, Sanjay visited the jute mill with 50-60 sleeping pills in tow. He found the entire family sitting outside their room. The two workers from Bihar, Shyam and Sriram, were also present at the time. Under the pretext of fetching water, Sanjay then went into the room where the family was staying and mixed the pills in their dal. He then proceeded to the first floor and laced the food of the youths from Bihar also. The third worker, Shakeel, ate with Maqsood’s family that day.
Sanjay then stayed with the family for the night. Around 2 am, he found everyone unconscious. He then put each person in a sack and dumped them in the well, the commissioner said.
According to Ravinder, it took Sanjay three hours to dump all of them into the well. After that, Sanjay cycled back to his room, Ravinder said.
Police first marked Sanjay as a suspect based on Maqsood’s call data records, Ravinder said. Later, they found CCTV footage of Sanjay cycling from his house toward the jute mill on the evening of May 20 and then leaving the jute mill at 5:30 am headed towards his house.
Rafika’s children have all been sent to a juvenile welfare home till they can be sent back to their relatives in West Bengal, said Ravinder.
Police is investigating how Sanjay could purchase 50-60 sleeping pills from a pharmacy in Hanamkonda, Warangal.
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