2010 Kurla minor rape, murder: How the cops found the needle in the haystack

It took the analysis of thousands of call data records and the collection of DNA samples of scores of people before the Nehru Nagar police zeroed in on cable operator Javed Shaikh as the culprit in the rape and murder of the nine-year-old in 2010

Finding themselves on the back foot after recovering the body of the third minor to be raped and murdered in a span of four months in a locality in Kurla in 2010, the Nehru Nagar police fought an uphill battle while investigating the crimes, culminating in the sentencing of 24-year-old Javed Shaikh yesterday.

With the needle of suspicion pointing even to the senior police inspector of their own police station and his son — since the second body was found from the terrace of the building where they lived (see box below) — Nehru Nagar police officials cast the net wide, scrutinised the call data of thousands and questioned and took the DNA samples of scores of people.

It took all this for the police to finally zero in on Shaikh — a cable operator, who was 19 at the time — for the rape and murder of the 9-year-old, the third victim, whose body was found in a deserted shanty in the area on June 19, 2010.

Shaikh was finally arrested on July 1 and sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday. The other two cases, in which the bodies of another nine-year-old and a six-year-old — who were also raped and murdered — were found in March 2010 and February 2010, respectively, still remain unsolved.

After the third rape and murder case involving a minor in a span of four months was registered on June 19, 2010, the Nehru Nagar police found it difficult to investigate as an atmosphere of sheer tension and panic prevailed. Cops didn’t have any clue whom to believe as their own senior police and his son were considered suspects in one of the cases.

Recalling the probe to mid-day yesterday, an officer, who was part of the investigating team, said the third case was registered with the police station on June 19, when the nine-year-old girl’s body was found in a deserted shanty. They started investigating very minutely and believed that they would get some leads in the third case.

“We could find some hair samples which we believed to be of the accused, and other samples from the body of the deceased, which proved very crucial for the case, as these were immediately sent for DNA analysis. After this, we started narrowing down on the people roaming around the shanty on June 6, when the girl, who had gone missing the same day, was raped and murdered.”

Wide net
The call data of thousands of mobile users was scrutinised. Scores of people who were found near the shanty on the day of the murder were summoned to the police station.

The investigators subjected each one of them to several rounds of questioning, but, with no leads emerging, they decided to collect the DNA samples of all of them, which were later sent for forensic tests to be matched with the samples that were found on the victim’s body.

“Not a single person was spared. We had even rounded up people engaged in door-to-door marketing, newspaper, milk and vegetable vendors and others who had gone near the scene of crime. Cable operator Javed Shaikh was among those whose samples were taken,” said an officer from the investigating team.

It’s a match
“After we received the reports from the laboratory around June 24, Shaikh’s DNA matched 100% to the DNA found on the nine-year-old girl, who was the third victim. So we sent a team and nabbed him. He was produced in court and we got police custody for 14 days beginning July 2.

Initially, he kept denying the crime. But, later, as we investigated and interrogated him, he confessed to the crime on the fifth day of his police custody — July 6 — and took us to the spot,” said the officer. Following this, Shaikh even gave the cops the chronological order of the events that took place on the day of the rape and murder.

“We then started collecting evidence from the spot and later even got three eyewitnesses in the case, which proved vital. The statements of a rickshaw driver — who had dropped Shaikh in the area — a maid and an officegoer made this case very strong and helped us seek conviction,” said the officer.


Suspecting their own
Before the third case took place, a dead body of a nine-year-old was found on March 7 in the terrace of the building where the senior police inspector of Nehru Nagar police station, Prakash Kale, lived. Because of this, he, his son and other residents of the building were considered suspects and their DNA samples were taken.

“I stayed in the police quarters right opposite Nehru Nagar police station and the dead body of a girl was found in our terrace area. For this, even we were considered suspects. My son was taken into custody for investigation first and, later, even I had to give a DNA sample,” Kale told mid-day. Kale, however, said that he wasn’t scared and he asked his son not to worry either as he knew that they were innocent.

“People would talk behind my back, even the policemen were pointing fingers, saying ‘senior police inspector ke bete ne kia hai’ (the senior police inspector’s son has committed the crime) but I never lost hope as I was confident that my son couldn’t do anything of the sort,” added Kale.

“I asked them to take my son’s DNA test and even gave mine, as I came to know that I was considered one of the suspects. But, justice was done,” he said. Neither the DNA samples of Kale, nor those of his son matched those found on any of the three victims and they are no longer suspects.

Hang him: Victim’s father
mid-day spoke to the parents of the 9-year-old victim for whose rape and murder Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday. Her mother said, “I am happy that the accused will no longer come out of jail and continue with his crimes.”

Narrating the ordeal she went through when her daughter disappeared, she said, “After hearing about the two previous incidents in February and March, I never left her alone, but I don’t know what happened that day (June 6, when she disappeared). I did not even get to see her for one last time.

Her body was taken directly to the graveyard from the hospital.” The girl’s father said, “The accused should be hanged. I saw my daughter’s decomposed body after it was found. Wires were tied on her neck, legs and hands, she was killed brutally. I want the accused to suffer the same. She was my first-born, I had prayed for a daughter and look what happened to her.”

- (As told to Sailee Dhayalkar)

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