A fortnight after a housewife showed up at MIDC police station with several burns and cuts, claiming her house had been robbed by a couple who inflicted these injuries on her, the police have exposed the case to be a complete farce.
Police discovered that the "robbers" had only taken away the jewellery belonging to the woman’s in-laws, but left hers intact; this, combined with many other similar discrepancies, made her claims suspect. Representation pic/thinkstock
The woman’s injuries, while real, were self-inflicted. She had staged the robbery so she could hide away her in-laws’ jewellery, and use it to get her husband out of debt.
A long investigation by the MIDC police, where they even launched a manhunt to trace the supposed robbers, and got the woman to be investigated by a panel of doctors, led them to crack the case.
The 150 burned matchsticks found in the woman’s house gave the police their first clue, raising the question as to why robbers would expend the time to torture the victim, but use the matchsticks judiciously, since only the gunpowder part of matchsticks had been consumed.
Robbery that wasn’t
According to the MIDC police, on April 29, a 27-year-old homemaker, Seema Akhilesh Dubey, approached them with cut marks and burn injuries on her body.
She alleged that when she was alone in her house, a couple armed with a knife barged in, gagged her, singed her with matchsticks, slashed her repeatedly, and fled with 7 tolas of gold, which belonged to her sister-in-law and mother-in-law.
The woman said she collapsed after the attack, and was found injured by her husband when he came back from work later that evening. Based on the complaint, the MIDC police registered a case of robbery against an unidentified couple, and admitted the injured woman to Holy Spirit Hospital in Andheri (East).
At the time, the police suspected that a new gang of robbers was at work in the area, striking in couples. Officials from the Crime Branch, property cell and anti-robbery cell were all put to work. Taking a serious view of the case, Mumbai police commissioner asked them to solve the case expeditiously.
The police launched a manhunt for the non-existent couple, whose sketches had been prepared based on a fictional description provided by the woman. Cops also issued a warning in the locality that women alone at home should be careful while opening the door.
Cops said that after they visited the alleged crime scene and took a look at the jewellery box that the robbers had supposedly targeted, they found that the woman’s ornaments had been left untouched; the ‘robbers’ had chosen to flee with only the jewellery that the woman claimed belonged to her in-laws.
Upon inspecting the house, the police found around 150 matchsticks on the floor, which Dubey claimed had been used by the robbers to burn her. Cops also found that her daughter, who is nine months old, was unscarred. The officials enquired of the neighbours, but did not find a single witness who saw anyone enter Dubey’s house or heard her cries.
The police could not question Dubey, as she was in the hospital and doctor instructed them to let her rest. So, they gathered the clues and compiled a report, and apprised the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) of the progress in the case. The DCP advised them to have Dubey examined in KEM Hospital. A special five-member panel of doctors was formed specially to examine her. Their report confirmed the cops’ suspicion.
The doctors concluded that the cut injuries on Dubey’s body were self-inflicted, based on the way the knife had cut through the skin. After studying her burn marks on the back of her body, they found that they were restricted till the point where her hand could have reached.
“The doctors said the burn injuries were found only till the boundary of the victim’s blouse cloth, till where her hand could have reached,” said senior inspector (SI) Arun Bhagat of the MIDC police station. After getting this report, the MIDC police prepared a team of three women officers who approached Dubey for inquiry.
At this time, she broke down and confessed that she had orchestrated the entire incident, and gave herself the wounds, to make it look like a real robbery. She told the police that her husband was in debt and she wanted to help him with the ornaments of her in-laws.
On Monday, she showed the cops where she had hidden the ornaments: in a duct near the water tank in her house. “We have recovered the jewellery and will now prepare a chargesheet against Dubey,” said SI Bhagat.