After Esther Anuhya’s charred body was recovered on January 16, 2014, five Crime Branch units began investigating the case along with the Kurla GRP. “Initially we thought that this could have been the work of a rickshaw or taxi driver or someone who works in and around LTT station.
Cops found their first and best lead in the CCTV footage, which showed Esther and Sanap walking together to the foot over bridge at LTT on January 5, 2014
So more than 1,000 people associated with the station were picked up and interrogated. We even inquired if someone had been missing since January 5,” said Police Inspector Sanjay Surve of Crime Branch, the first investigating officer of the case.
On January 18, cops finally got their first and the most crucial lead, with the fresh CCTV footage from LTT, which showed Esther walking with the accused (later identified as Chandrabhan Sanap) towards the foot over bridge.
Meanwhile, the Kurla GRP, in the second week of February, had picked up Sanap from Nasik but he managed to throw the cops off his trail as he had grown a beard and looked different. Sanap was put through sustained interrogation but he managed to hoodwink the cops by giving false statements.
“The CCTV footage was enlarged and the investigators launched a major manhunt for Sanap. The officers showed his image to each and every person at LTT station. Luckily, a porter identified Sanap, who had worked as a porter at the same station in the past,” said an officer.
On March 2, the cops got a call from a local informer saying the accused had been spotted in the Karve Nagar area, following which a team was dispatched and he was nabbed. “With Kurla GRP leaving him after interrogation, the accused thought he could coast through our inquiry as well.
But since we had concrete evidence against him, he couldn't answer the questions placed before him and he confessed to the crime,” added Surve.
In the wee hours, Esther Anuhya had arrived at LTT station. A drunk Sanap approached her claiming that he was a taxi driver and took her outside the station on the pretext of dropping her home (which the CCTV cameras had captured).
“As the CCTV footage shows, Sanap said that Esther had given his details to someone on the phone, but this turned out to be a fake call, as her call details records don’t show any calls made by her,” said an officer.
“The accused had only approached her with the intention of stealing her bag and fleeing, but Esther hopped on the back seat and he decided to take advantage of the situation and rape her,” added the officer.
Following the incident, Sanap told his friend Nandkishor Sahu about the murder. This friend became a star witness for the prosecution later.