IN A fresh breakthrough in the rape and brutal murder of a minor girl, whose body with 86 injury marks was found from near a playground in Pandesara area of Surat on April 6, the police on Friday said that they have detained three persons, including one from Sawai Madhopur district in neighbouring Rajasthan, in connection with the case.
The police have also initiated a probe to ascertain if the body of a woman, which was found in the same locality during the same period, was that of the mother of the girl who hails from Sawai Madhopur district. Primary leads indicated that the prime accused Harsh Gujjar, a civil contractor detained from Rajasthan, had paid Rs 35,000 to “buy” the woman and her child as labourers, said police sources.
The latest breakthrough in the probe has set aside the claims of a man from Andhra Pradesh who had said that the dead girl, believed to be between nine and 11 years old, was his daughter who had gone missing from her school in October last year.
Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said that the interrogation of the accused was underway to ascertain the identity of the victim.
According to the Surat Crime Branch, which is probing the case with the help of a four-member team from Ahmedabad Crime Branch, the breakthrough came from a CCTV footage which showed that on the night of April 5, two cars — a Maruti Wagon R and a Chevrolet Spark — had passed through the spot from where the girl’s body was found the next morning. On questioning, the owner of the Chevrolet Spark broke down and confessed that his car had been used in disposing of the body of the girl, said police. The car owner, whose identity has been withheld by the police, is under detention. The car owner led the police to one more youth who revealed that the main conspirator of the crime was one Harsh Gujjar from Sawai Madhopur district.
A team of Ahmedabad Crime Branch reached Gangapur city in Sawai Madhopur district and with the help of Rajasthan Police, they detained Gujjar. “We had received information from Gujarat police about Gujjar and we detained him from his village Kulkuta Khurd before handing him over to the Gujarat police,” said Deepak Ojha, Station House Officer of Gangapur City police station.
According to Surat police, Gujjar recently got a contract for Mansarovar project at Kamrej in Surat district. “Facing shortage of labourers having expertise in marble fitting, Gujjar went to Sawai Madhopur and hired a few youths. His friend told him that he had a woman and her daughter and they were facing shortage of money. Gujjar gave him Rs 35,000 and told him to convince her relatives to send her to Surat. A month ago, Gujjar told her relatives that he was taking the woman and her daughter to Surat for work. After bringing both of them to Surat, he allotted them a small room in Kamrej,” said a police officer.
Police sources said that Gujjar had a quarrel with his wife after she learnt that he had a kept woman in a room and had allegedly entered into an illicit relationship with her. Police suspect that a quarrel between Gujjar and the woman led to the twin murders. According to the police sources, Gujjar brought the minor girl to his home in Bhestan and told her that her mother had gone to her native place. He told his wife that the minor was the daughter of his friend and would stay for a few days. When Gujjar’s wife learnt that she was the daughter of the woman with whom her husband had allegedly developed illicit relationship, she started beating her with wooden sticks and tortured her and sexually assaulted her, sources said.
Fed up of the constant quarrels with his wife over the girl, Surat police sources said that Gujjar allegedly strangulated the girl with the help of his brother. Later, they took the Chevrolet car from their friend and disposed of the body near the playground in the Pandesara area. After committing the crime, Gujjar was hiding in Sawai Madhopur district. Police have collected blood samples of the deceased woman and her daughter and sent it to FSL office for DNA test.
Fast-track court to hear the case: Minister
Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja told mediapersons in Gandhinagar that the government will establish a fast-track court to hear the case. “The Pandesara rape and murder of the minor girl has shocked us all. However, the police have cracked the case. We suspect that the accused have murdered the mother of the victim, whose body was recovered from another spot in Pandesara during the same time. A DNA test will be conducted to establish the link between the two victims. We will appoint a special public prosecutor in the case and ensure that a fast track court delivers quick justice to the victims,” Jadeja said. Meanwhile, the DNA test report of the man from Andhra Pradesh, who claimed to be the father of the girl, is still awaited.
— With ENS, Jaipur