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2 years on, parents wait to build daughter's pyre

Murdered 3-yr-old girl's father has been toiling since 2009 to get her skeletal remains that the police took for forensic analysis; cops say they can't give the remains unless court directs them to

For more than two years, Upendra Rai and his family have been waiting for the police to hand over the skeletal remains of their three-year-old daughter who was found murdered in Borivli (East).

Shreya Rai had gone missing on October 14 in 2009.
Some 50 days later, her skeleton was found at a construction site 300 feet from the chawl where she lived. The prime suspect of the Kasturba Marg police investigating the case was the girl's neighbour. However, all this time later, the police are still at a loss as to who murdered her.


Reinvestigation took more time... but yielded no leads on the culprit,
said NGO worker Roma Khan. After Kasturba police conducted a forensic
analysis on Shreya's remains, Crime Branch did it again, but both reports
said the same thing. Pic for representation


Meanwhile, the parents of Shreya have been running from pillar to post just to gain custody of their daughter's skeleton.

"It has been a long and tiring wait. All I want now is the remains of my daughter to perform her last rites. The police however are refusing even that. They have sent the remains for forensic analysis twice, but there has been no progress in the case," said 33-year-old Upendra.

'Cops clueless'
After Kasturba Marg police did not get any leads for a year, Upendra, with the help of NGO Insaf, approached the High Court, which passed on the case to the Crime Branch in August 2010. In his petition, Upendra suggested that Shreya could have been a victim of child sacrifice, a claim that was backed by Roma Khan, a forensic archaeologist and an activist with the NGO.

Khan said, "The local police conducted investigations for over a year but did not even get around to filing a chargesheet. So we approached the High Court, asking for a more competent inquiry to find the culprit. The case was given to Crime Branch, which started reinvestigation, but they also did not make any headway in zeroing in on the culprit. Their forensic analysis report was no different from the one by the local police -- a head injury killed Shreya. They failed to nab the culprit, who is still out on the loose. What's the point of keeping the remains and repeating the routine when there is no headway?"

Official says
Assistant Commissioner of Police Jaywant Hergude, Unit XI of Crime Branch, said, "When the case came to us, we had to send the body for forensic analysis. We found that her head was struck with a sharp object. Now that the analysis is over, and we can hand over the remains but only when the court allows it."

No leads
Shreya's father Upendra's petition stated that a 10-year-old boy had told his wife he had last seen Shreya with one of their neighbours near the Ambaji Maate temple. The boy, who was related to the temple's head priest Umashanker Pandey, had been arrested on December 11 and released on bail the next day. The police said they grilled the boy but could neither gather any evidence nor see any motive. Officials also said they launched a combing operation between July 9 and 18, and cracked down on 35 illegal alcohol dealers, drug addicts and beggars in the area to find leads, but it yielded no results.

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