Three days after the DNA tests confirmed that the two bodies found from Surat’s Pandesara area earlier this month were of a mother and her 11-year-old daughter, the police have not been able to make any headway in identifying them. Moreover, they have not been able to nab three more accused in the case.
Police said that the prime accused in the case, Harsh Sahay Gujjar — the 27-year-old marble contractor — who is in police remand till May 3 for allegedly raping and killing the girl as well as her mother, has not provided any lead about the woman’s identity.
The 36-year-old woman’s body was found on April 9, three days after a mutilated body of a girl with 86 injury marks was found in a bush near a playground in Pandesara.
Police said that Harsh, who was arrested from Ganganagar in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district on April 20, demonstrated “no remorse” and has not revealed any detail about the identity of the woman and her child. Sources, however, said the woman could be from Uttar Pradesh.
Harsh, who is married and has two children, allegedly raped and killed the girl as she had seen him strangulate her mother. Police said his wife, Rama Devi, is also a suspect in the alleged torture of the minor victim.
“There was no sign of repentance on Harsh’s face as he confessed to killing both the woman and daughter. He killed the mother as she was forcing him to stay with her, and killed her daughter as she was a witness to her mother’s murder when she was strangulated to death in a moving car on March 26. Harsh feared that the minor girl might disclose about the murder to other people,” Crime Branch Inspector B N Dave told The Indian Express.
Before Harsh was arrested, police had put up a notice for the missing girl in Pandesara and even at the house in his neighbourhood in Rajasthan.
“Before Harsh was arrested, police had gone to his house three times with the photograph of the girl, but their family members refused to identify her… They knew that Harsh had brought a girl with him and had killed her. His elder brother, Harisingh, also knew about bringing a woman and her daughter from Ganganagar for work and that he had a relationship with her, but he also remained silent,” Dave.
Sources told this paper that Harsh, along with Harisingh, came to Surat from Ganganagar around seven years ago and started staying at a rented house in Bhatesan area. They were experts of tile and marble fitting, and started working at construction sites in Pandesara area. Business grew and they became marble and tile contractors. They also supplied labourers to different builders and earned commissions.
Police said Harsh was feared in the family, including by his elder brother, for his “short temper”. Two Gujarati families, who are their neighbours, said they did not keep any relations with the family.
Shyam Sharma, a peon from Maharashtra who lives opposite to Gujjars’ home, recalled seeing the deceased girl at Harsh’s house.
“We never saw the women members of the family and Harsh and his brother remained at workplace all day and returned only at night. We have seen a small girl in their house. She used to come out from the house to buy things from the nearby shops and go back to the building. She would never talk to other kids or play in the street. Everyone knew about Harsh’s quarrelsome nature and we did not interfere in their family issues. Sometimes, they would sit and chat outside their house late into the night and would continue till early morning. When the girl had gone missing and was not seen for a couple of days after April 5, my wife and I had discussed it, but did not dare ask the family,” Sharma said.
Police have recorded the statements of Harisingh, his wife and Harsh and his wife Ramadevi, but only Harsh has been arrested in the case, so far. Two teams of police are stationed in different districts of Rajasthan to locate and arrest other accused — Hariom Gujjar, Mukesh Gujjar and his cousin Kuldeep Gujjar.