FOR the 1,695 residents of Jaulakevani, 25-year-old Sachin Shinde, arrested on Saturday for allegedly raping and murdering his five-year-old daughter, was an archetype tribal labourer. Mellow during the day, an evening tipple would often transform him into a rambunctious man, who neighbours sometimes found difficult to control.
The Shindes’ immediate neighbours believe it was an alcohol-induced haze, coupled with his sexual frustration following a broken marriage, that led him to rape and kill his own daughter.
“He was a normal fellow or so he seemed. He generally used to lose it when he drank. That day, too, he had been drinking quite a bit at a wedding in the village, along with his brother. Still, it is tough to imagine that he would kill and rape his daughter,” says Nagendra Lohate, a neighbour.
Shinde’s mother, Anusaya, who is alleged to have helped him with the crime, seems to have shielded the only-earning member of the family. With the farm crisis continuing, times are tough for casual labourers who work on these farms, like the Shindes, say neighbours.
The Shindes, who are tribals, settled in the village five years back and worked as casual labourers in the onion and grape farms that dot the fertile lands of Dindori taluka of Nashik district.
The family comprised Sachin, his wife and two children, Sachin’s younger brother Gorakh and his wife and their parents Ashok and Anusaya Shinde. Sachin’s youngest daughter was handed over to his estranged wife.
All the adults worked as farmhands. But, over the years, Sachin became the only person who still earned a living.
“His brother Gorakh was out of work for some time. He had been beaten up at his workplace once. As far as we know, Sachin was the only working member of the family,” says Mahesh Patil, a resident of the village, standing outside the ramshackle house of the Shindes, a rented property that is now locked.
With a daily wage of Rs 150 to Rs 200, there were financial problems within the family. Both brothers’ wives left the house, on the same day, nearly a year back.
“They left their home and were not staying with their husbands. Sachin seemed to have been particularly angry after his wife left him,” Patil says.
On the night of May 19, the two brothers went to a wedding in the village and allegedly got drunk. According to Assistant Police Inspector Madan Pawar, who investigated the case, Sachin’s two children were sleeping outside the house, along with their grandparents when the brothers returned.
“Sometime on Friday night, Sachin picked up his daughter and went into a room adjacent to the place where they were sleeping. He then raped her,” Pawar says.
Pawar claims that the struggle that the five-year-old child put up woke up the grandmother who entered the room and witnessed the act. “The mother reprimanded her son, but later seemed to have helped him. The two then throttled the child,” Pawar said.
The Police claim that Anusaya then took the dead body of the child to a dark alley within a Zilla Parishad school that is 200 metres from their house and dumped the body. The family by that time seems to have panicked and decided to get the body back.
“Anusaya got the body back and then asked her younger son Gorakh to go and fetch his maternal uncle on his motorcycle. She then told her brother that the child was sick and needed to be taken to a hospital. They took the child to a hospital in Pimpalgaon, but the doctor informed us that there was something shady about the entire episode,” Pawar said.
Interestingly, until then Anusaya, according to the police, had not told her brother that the child was dead. “Only when we reached did her brother come to know that the child was dead. Anusaya then cooked up a story of a man approaching her at night, soliciting sex. She said that the man must have raped and killed her granddaughter,” Pawar said.
Pawar claims that the police became suspicious after they realised that in spite of the tragedy, the girl’s father had chosen to stay home and was not at the hospital. The police claim that the body had strangulation marks on the neck and had signs of bleeding from her private parts.
“He put up an act when we questioned him. He even slapped his brother and told him that it would be he taking questions from the policemen, and that he would get revenge for his daughter’s death. However, after sustained questioning, he confessed,” Pawar says.
The police have booked both the mother and son for the crime. The two are in police custody till May 30. Sachin’s father and brother have locked the house and left the village.