Less than 72 hours after mid-day's report on mystery murder, cops crack case, take four accused into custody
Siddesh and Priyanka Gurav on their wedding day
The alleged killers of Priyanka Gurav have been caught. She is the unfortunate woman whose headless torso was found in a nullah just a few days ago, and whose identity was established only on Thursday based on the Ganesh-Om tattoo on her left shoulder, which her siblings recognised. It took the Navi Mumbai police less than 72 hours to zero in on the culprits - her husband Siddesh (25), his parents Manohar (50) and Madhuri Gurav (48), and friend Durgesh Patwa.
Priyanka went missing on May 5
The Navi Mumbai crime branch made headway in the case after getting specific information; officers picked up Patwa, a resident of Titwala working in a jewellery manufacturing unit, who cracked during interrogation and spilled the beans on the murder, naming everyone involved.
The injury Priyanka sustained after being beaten up by her mother-in-law
Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Tushar Doshi said, "All four accused have been handed over to the Rabale MIDC police, in whose jurisdiction the torso was found. The local police will complete the formalities of arrest and produce the accused in court on Saturday. Further investigation in the case will be done by them."
The tattoo on Priyanka
"Preliminary inquiries have revealed that Siddesh and his parents would quarrel with Priyanka often; they even started suspecting her character. They finally decided to get rid of her and executed the murder plan," an officer said.
Highly-placed sources revealed that Siddesh, during the course of questioning, said, "For the last three years, Priyanka had been putting pressure on me to get married to her. We used to have frequent arguments before and even after marriage."
The dark night
Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the murder happened on the night of May 4, when Priyanka was asleep. The accused allegedly smothered her, and then, hacked her into pieces for easy disposal. The rest of the body parts are yet to be found.
"We are in the process of questioning the accused. A police team has already visited their Worli house to get more evidence. A forensic team will also be visiting the crime scene to gather scientific evidence, including recovery of the weapon used in the crime," said an officer.
The officer hinted that they have some information about the possible whereabouts of the deceased's head and lower limbs, which they are verifying.
The statements of Priyanka's elder sister Kavita and brother Ganesh were recorded yesterday. Kavita told mid-day, "I have already recorded my statement with the police and have told them everything about the frequent fights between Priyanka and Siddesh, which happened a few weeks before the wedding as well."
When asked to elaborate, Kavita recalled an instance from February 2017. On not finding Priyanka home, she had called her up, only to hear her crying and saying that she was at Siddesh's house in Dombivli and had been badly beaten up by his mother.
Kavita alleged that in her absence Siddesh had come to their house in Dombivli and argued with Priyanka, banging her head on the wall in a fit of rage. Priyanka had then gone to his house to complain about the assault to his mother. But instead of listening to her, she, too, had beaten her up, Kavita added.
"She beat her so hard that her glass bangles broke and a portion of that pierced Priyanka's back, resulting in a deep gash and heavy loss of blood," Kavita said, showing a picture of that wound.
"Ganesh and I went to Vishnu Nagar police station to register a complaint, but Siddesh's father pleaded with us not to, saying it would ruin his and Siddesh's future. He even promised to get the two married and not raise any issue thereafter.
"After that incident, Priyanka went to stay with Siddesh and his parents for three weeks, and returned with horrifying stories."
Kavita alleged that Priyanka told her that Madhuri would frequently argue with her, and once, even tried to strangle her. Priyanka also told her that in fits of rage the family would not hesitate to attack even each other with a sickle.
"I got scared and asked her why she wanted to marry into such a family. But she just said that she was keen on it; she said she had no other option," said Kavita.
Siblings give their say
Manohar, meanwhile, did not keep his promise of getting Priyanka married to Siddesh, pushing it back on some or the other pretext, said Kavita, adding that they finally agreed to have the wedding in the first week of April, only to postpone again because they had to shift to the PWD quarters in Worli.
Kavita said, "The wedding was finally fixed on April 30, and they (Guravs) shifted from Dombivli to Worli five days before that. Because we could not afford a lavish ceremony, it was arranged in a temple in Dadar, with close relatives from both families in attendance. Priyanka, however, did not look happy; she seemed tensed and worried."
Ganesh last spoke to Priyanka on May 3, when she had come to stay with Kavita after the wedding. "We tried asking her many times, if something was bothering her. She seemed to be under some pressure, afraid of something, but she refused to say anything."
Kavita also said that her suspicions were raised when she saw the clothes the torso was found in, which was what Priyanka had been wearing the day she left from her maternal home. "I had called up Madhuri and asked if anyone would come to pick her up, to which she had said to drop Priyanka in Ghatkopar and Siddesh, whose office was in Vikhroli, would bring her home."
"Priyanka was very particular about not repeating her clothes. So when I saw the picture of the torso with the same clothes that Priyanka had been wearing the day she left from our Dombivli house, I found it very unsettling and suspicious," she added.
The interview that never was
"On May 5, Manohar called us up and said Priyanka had gone for an interview to a placement agency in Gorai and would later visit us. This, too, raised a doubt in our minds, as she had been with us just a day before and had no reason to visit again so soon," said Kavita.
"Until 10.30 pm on May 5, Manohar kept saying that there was no clue on Priyanka's whereabouts and that they were worried. On May 6, Manohar and Siddesh visited us to express their concern, and said they would wait for 48 hours and then register a missing complaint."
Kavita said that after it was confirmed that the torso belonged to her sister, she contacted the placement agency in Gorai, and that's when she found out that no one by the name Priyanka had visited, and neither did they have any appointment or interview scheduled for her.
"My sister was innocent, she had never wronged anyone; then why was she killed so brutally?" said a grieving Kavita, who along with Ganesh is now trying to get answers to Priyanka's constant fear and premonition of her death from the accused.