Investigation into 25-year-old's murder reveals that the arrested accused is not an ex-boyfriend but a spurned lover who raped her after killing her
The deceased, Shraddha Panchal
One-sided love is what turned fatal for the 25-year-old Vile Parle physiotherapist, who was found strangulated at her home in December.
After the Vile Parle police arrested her neighbour Debashish Dhara from Kolkata for the murder, it has now come to light that he was not her ex-boyfriend but a spurned lover, who had been following her obsessively for quite sometime and she had rebuffed all his advances.
Dhara confessed before the police that he had been in love with her and after her for a long time, but she had rejected him when he had expressed his feelings to her.
The accused used to keep an eye on the victim's each and every activity and knew her daily routine, what time she left the house and what time she returned. He had seen her come home drunk a number of times with her colleagues.
On the day of the murder as well, she had brought her colleagues home. After a while, they had all left, forgetting to lock the door. The accused, who had been sitting outside the house and keeping a close watch on her, went in after they left. He allegedly tried to rape her, but when she fought back, he strangulated her with her jeans and then raped her.
He later tried to burn her but failed there as well. In a bid to mislead the police and make it look like robbery was the motive, he took some of her jewellery and fled from the spot.
The late breakthrough
Initially, the police were clueless, with parallel investigations by several teams, including the Mumbai Crime Branch, leading nowhere. Several of the victim's friends were picked up for questioning, and later, neighbours, with Dhara being one of them.
The breakthrough came nearly two months after the crime, when the police sought the help of the area's locals to identify the person being seen in the footage from the CCTV on the building premises that they had been scanning. The footage was also leaked on social media and given to TV channels on January 8. On seeing that, on January 10, the accused fled to Kolkata.
An officer said a team traced him to Kolkata and brought him back, after which he was produced in court and sent to police custody for four days.