The spot on Shahapur-Nashik road where the head was found yesterday
Over a week after Worli resident Priyanka Gurav's dismembered body was found in a nullah, her severed head has been found. The Rabale MIDC police recovered it from a desolate spot on Shahapur-Nashik road in Thane district yesterday. The head was wrapped in layers of plastic bags and a bed sheet, and dumped near a tree.
The police also arrested Dombivli resident Vishal Soni for helping with disposal of the body parts. Priyanka had gone missing on May 5. Her headless torso was found a day later in a nullah in the MIDC industrial area in Rabale, Navi Mumbai. All the police had for clues was a Ganesh-Om tattoo on the left shoulder. Her identity was established after her sister read the mid-day report on May 9 and recognised the tattoo. On May 12, the police cracked the case and found that Priyanka's husband and in-laws had killed her and chopped up the body for easy disposal. They and accomplice Durgesh Patwa, who allegedly helped dump the body, have been booked for murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence. Priyanka's charred limbs were found on May 13, 48 km from her Worli home.
Durgesh Patwa, who allegedly helped dispose of the body parts
P Jadhav, investigating inspector from Rabale MIDC police station, said Patwa led them to a spot on Sahapur-Nasik road, close to Vasind town, yesterday. "He took our team to an abandoned plastic bag near a tree. The bag was heavy. Inside, wrapped in a bed sheet and two to three plastic bags was the head."
The police conducted a panchnama and seized the remains. Although the face showed slight signs of decomposition, it was recognisable, said Jadhav.
Based on Patwa's confession, the police arrested his associate, imitation jewellery maker from Dombivli East Vishal Soni, who allegedly helped dispose of the severed parts. "Soni has confessed to his role in the crime. We will produce him before the court on Monday and seek his custody," said Jadhav.
The police are now looking for the four-wheeler that was used by Patwa to transport the body parts to different locations and the weapon used in chopping them up. The police feel that the vehicle may yield more incriminating evidence like bloodstains.
Manohar, the father (third from left), Siddesh and Priyanka
DNA test this week
The charred limbs, the head and the soil from the spot will be preserved for forensic analysis. A DNA test will be conducted this week and matched against Priyanka's siblings to ascertain the torso's identity. The remains will be handed over to the siblings, Kavita and Ganesh, only after the DNA examination. "We have been asked by the police to wait for a few more days to perform her last rites," said Kavita.
Kavita and Ganesh asked the Rabale MIDC police to allow them to confront Siddesh (23) and his parents, and ask them why they went ahead with the marriage - Priyanka (24) wed just five days before her disappearance - if they hated her.
Kavita also sought a look at Patwa, suspecting that he was the man who had tailed the family days before the wedding. "We saw a man continuously following us. Priyanka was also with us. We ignored him. But now that the police have arrested a fourth person (Durgesh), we wanted to confirm if he was the same man. The police did not allow us even a look at him," she said.
24x7 police cover for the culprits
Siddesh's mother, Madhuri, is said to be inconsolable in her police cell. Siddesh and his father, Manohar, do not speak to anyone and keep to themselves. Police personnel have been deployed 24x7 to ensure that the family does not adopt any act of self-harm. Manohar, who was employed as a sweeper with the PWD, has been suspended.