Mumbai Crime: Aarey cops covered up my son's sexual assault, murder, says father
Slamming the local police investigation as 'lopsided and unsatisfactory', fellow officer Narendra Shinde writes to the DGP and commissioner, seeking a re-investigation into his son's alleged murder; crime branch takes over case
The villa where Atharva Shinde was partying, and (below) the lake from where his body was found, some 300 metres from the villa
It's sadly all too common to see families of crime victims struggle against police apathy to get justice for their loved ones. This time, though, it's one of Mumbai Police's own who has accused the force of a "lopsided and unsatisfactory" investigation into his son's death. Narendra Shinde, an inspector with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), claimed that the Aarey police tried to cover up his son's alleged sexual assault and murder at a party in Aarey Colony.
A week after he found his 20-year-old son's body at an isolated lake in the Royal Palms Estate at Aarey Colony, Inspector Narendra Shinde wrote a strongly worded letter to the director general of police (DGP) and Mumbai Police commissioner. Through sources in the state police, mid-day accessed the letter, which slammed the Aarey police for its "unsatisfactory" investigation. A day later, the case was transferred to the crime branch (Unit XI), as the local police had failed to make a breakthrough. This was confirmed by a senior official of the crime branch.
mid-day had reported that the inspector's son, Atharva Shinde, had gone for a party to villa number 212 at Royal Palms on the night of May 7. Sources said, Atharva did not know most of the people at the party, and had merely accompanied his friend to the bash. Narendra's letter stated: "Atharva had gone to the birthday party of the daughter of a Marathi producer with a friend of his, and he had texted me at night that he was staying over at a friend's place."
When he did not return home, Narendra went looking for him and, two days later, found his body at a lake 300 metres from the villa. His father has alleged that the youth's death was not an accident, but was due to sexual assault and murder. In his letter, Narendra has mentioned the first names of all those present at the party, and has demanded "narco analysis, brain mapping and polygraph test of all the boys and girls who were present in the party which started on May 7."
'Shielding the culprits'
Shinde alleged that the police did not even take down the revellers' statements down properly. He wrote: "There are intentional deficiencies in the probe of Aarey police, which will dilute and wash the murder evidence in the four walls of villa number 212... Atharva was subjected to physical abuse and sexual assault. And the investigating team is putting forth their own theories and presumptions."
He added, "The line of probe is not in conformity with laid down procedure. Unfortunately, instead of booking the culprits, Aarey police are trying to protect the suspects from the clutches of the law, since they are influential persons." Narendra alleged, "The post-mortem clearly shows injuries to the chest, contusions to the ribs and lungs, and laceration on his private parts, and these are not self-inflicted injuries but are [caused] by external force and heavy blows."
He stated that he has no grudge against the Aarey police, but requested for a fresh investigation so that "justice is done to the bereaved family, which is undergoing trauma and mental agony."
Despite several attempts to contact Narendra, he refused to comment. mid-day also reached out to Vinay Kumar Rathod, the deputy commissioner of police under whose jurisdiction the Aarey police station falls. He did not respond to calls or messages either.
The other side
An officer from the Aarey police said that the post-mortem report stated that the cause of death was internal injuries. The source added that there was no mention of injuries to the private parts in the provisional report. The detailed forensic report is awaited.
According to an officer part of the team that investigated the case so far, they had watched two hours of CCTV footage, both inside the villa where the party was held, as well as the stretch between the house and the lake where the body was found. "There was no sign of sexual assault. The deceased is seen running out of the villa barefoot. Around 7.30 am, he caught an auto rickshaw, but it took a U-turn and dropped him at the same spot. He then ran towards the lake, but no one followed him," said an officer.
The CCTV footage also show him falling outside the villa and, later, tumbling down to the lake. "His injuries may have been caused by the fall," said the officer.
Inputs by Samiullah Khan
Investigation so far
An officer from the Aarey police said, "We have taken down the statements of all those present at the party, along with other witnesses who were around the bungalow. We have combed hours of CCTV footage, but found no evidence of murder. The villa's caretaker also told us that there was no fight, only some pushing around at the party."
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