The victim had negotiated a price for a drop back to her hostel, thinking that the man was a taxi or auto driver; when she saw his bike, she refused the offer, but he convinced her, asking her to take down his mobile number
The Mumbai Crime Branch on Monday announced that it finally cracked the murder case of software engineer Esther Anuhya, almost two months after she was reported missing.
Esther Anuhya’s charred remains were found on January 16 in Kanjurmarg
The police said that robbery was the main motive behind the murder, and that the accused, a 28-year-old man, was a mobile phone thief. He threw his SIM card into a river in order to evade the police.
On Sunday, the Crime Branch arrested Chandraban Sudam Sanap, a resident of Karve Nagar, Kanjurmarg. Sanap had earlier worked at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) as a porter, but subsequently sold his workman’s badge and shifted to Nashik.
During interrogations, Sanap told the police that he met Esther at LTT on January 5, after she alighted from the train that brought her back to Mumbai after her Christmas break in Hyderabad.
Sanap offered to drop her to her hostel in Andheri. They negotiated and decided that she would pay him Rs 300 for the ride. Footage of the negotiations has been caught on the CCTV cameras installed on LTT premises.
“When Esther emerged from LTT, she realised that Sanap did not have a taxi or an auto, but a bike. She refused to sit on the bike,” said Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria. “The accused told her to take down his mobile phone number and even give his bike’s plate number to his relatives.
But since she did not have any call balance left on her phone, Esther did not make an actual call, but only pretended to call her family members and pass on the details. So an actual call never happened,” said Maria.
Rape attempt & robbery
While they crossed Sahkar Talkies and reached the Eastern Express Highway near Kanjurmarg, Sanap stopped the bike on the pretext of having run out of petrol, and parked the vehicle on the service road. “It was foggy at around 5.40 am, and Sanap dragged Esther to the bushes nearby.
He tried to rape her, but she defended herself fiercely. In the struggle that ensued, he knocked her head several times on the stones nearby, and then strangled her with a dupatta. He fled the scene with her laptop and her trolley bag,” said Maria.
Later, Sanap went to Kanjurmarg, from where he called his friend and the owner of the bike, Nandkishore Sahu. He told him what had happened. “Both of them went back to the spot where Sanap had killed Esther. Sanap tried to find Esther’s phone, worried that she had saved his number. He failed to find the phone, and removing some petrol from the bike, flung it on Esther and attempted to burn her body,” said Maria.
>> Esther did not have enough balance on her phone to make a call
>> Pretended to call her parents and give them details of the ‘driver’
>> Cops later saw her make a call on CCTV footage, but could not trace it