Kumar Resort in Lonavala became the centre of a horrific crime investigation after a seven-year-old girl was discovered dead on the terrace, after she had been brutally abused and murdered, two days after she went missing. The girl with partial vision impairment was attending her cousin’s wedding there on Sunday night.
The seven-year-old’s body was found rolled in a carpet behind a solar panel on the terrace of the resort two days after she went missing
The girl’s father blamed the police for slow action and alleged that he found no cooperation from the resort, which is owned by a former MLA from Mumbai. The deceased victim and her father had travelled to Lonavala from Indapur in Raigad to attend a wedding.
The father said he had originally intended to attend the wedding alone, because her vision was blurry in both short and long range. But the girl was excited about her cousin’s wedding, and so he decided to take her along. “We reached Lonavala on Sunday morning around 11 am.
I dressed my daughter and she said she was looking like Kareena Kapoor. I did not know that was the last day I would see her,” the girl’s father recalled. The wedding ceremony began around 5.30 pm at Kumar Resort, and he recalled that his daughter was with him the whole time. Later, she went to get him soup but did not return.
For some time her father thought she was playing with her cousins. He only realised that she was missing around 9 pm, when it was time to go home. Family members looked for her and called out her name to no avail. Finally, around 11.30 pm, the victim’s father lodged an FIR at the Lonavala City police station. The cops searched for the girl through Monday, but could find no sign of her.
Around 1 pm on Tuesday afternoon, two days after she first went missing, a resort employee went up to the terrace to clean the solar water heater and he found a rolled carpet behind one of the panels. He found the seven-year-old wrapped inside the carpet; her clothes were tattered, her throat had been slit and her jewellery was missing.
Doctors at Sassoon General hospital conducted the post mortem and revealed that while the cause of death was the slit throat, the victim had several injuries around her private parts that indicated sexual abuse, which led cops to add sexual assault and murder to the initial charge of abduction in the FIR. The doctors also suspected that she had been murdered before Tuesday, as her body was already decomposing.
The girl’s father claims that she could have been saved if the resort management and police had put in more effort. He said that although he had asked to see the resort’s CCTV footage, his request was denied with different excuses.
“We approached the manager and pleaded for access to the CCTV footage but they claimed that they did not have the password to view it. They also said they did not have the footage saved and tried to hush up the case.
Later, the management claimed that the cameras were not in a working condition,” he said. It should be noted that the police were given access to the footage on Monday. He voiced doubts about the cops’ effectiveness as well.
“The police claimed that they had searched the entire resort on Monday. If that is true, how come my daughter’s body was found on the next afternoon by the resort staff?”
Inspector I S Patil, who is in charge of the Lonavala City police, which comes under Pune Rural Police, said, “From the CCTV footage, we know that the girl was last seen around 10 pm on Sunday, when she was sitting on the ground floor with a female caterer.
The marriage was held on the ground floor but her body was found on the terrace, four floors above. There are no CCTVs on the upper floors, so we are looking for other clues. At present 40 staffers are being interrogated.”
Pune Rural Police Superintendent Manoj Kumar Lohiya said, “We have formed four teams for the investigation and I am personally probing the case. There has been no negligence. If the parent has a complaint, they can approach me, but the priority is to investigate the case and zero down on the culprit.”
To protest against the incident, local politicians and residents allegedly vandalised the resort premises during an agitation yesterday. Shops were closed and the police were forced to employ mild lathicharge to bring the mob under control.
Responding to the violence, former Ulhasnagar MLA, Kumar Ailani, who owns Kumar Resort, said, “We are co-operating with police and have sympathy towards the parent. The family had appointed private caterers and management for the wedding.
The issue of CCTV raised by the family is not true; we have a technical team in Mumbai handling the cameras. I do not know what has prompted the family and the local residents to raise objections against me. I know this is a mischievous act by some local politician. They have destroyed my hotel and broken the glass there.”