The girl studied in Class I and lived with her grandparents. Her parents lived separately with their second child. On May 23, locals saw her last while she was playing near a temple.When she did not return home, her grandparents started looking for her.They eventually registered a complaint of kidnapping. Search parties were sent and around 12.40am (May 24) the girl’s body was found wrapped in a mattress in bushes near the creek. A forensic team visited the crime scene and collected samples. The police started a combing operation.
The girl’s grandparents suspected a few people with whom they were in a property dispute. But the police did not find a link with that. “We rounded up 68 people and narrowed down to two suspects, including Saroj. From his evasive answers, we suspected his involvement in the crime. But we needed strong evidence to back us as there was no eyewitness,” said senior inspector Milind Khetle of the Malwani police.
The police appealed in the neighbourhood about the need to take blood samples of the men who had been rounded up so that the case could be solved scientifically. “We took the samples of only two–Saroj and the other suspect. After Saroj’s medical examination, we were quite sure we were on the right track. But we did not want him to know or else he would have fled,” said an official. The police had sent the victim’s clothes to the forensic lab. The blood samples too were sent there. By this time, locals had started demonstrating against the absence of arrests in the case.
“On July 5, we received lab reports stating that the samples found on the victim’s clothes had matched perfectly with Saroj’s blood,” said an official.Saroj, hailing from UP , had been brought to Mumbai by a Malad family to work as their domestic help. He also worked at a cowshed.
Saroj told the police his intention was not to kill the girl. “She couldn’t survive repeated sexual assault. Saroj washed her body and wrapped it in an old mattress. From crime shows he knew how the police look for evidence and how they track down culprits. He tried his best to destroy all possible evidence,” said an official.
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