Mystery around missing IIT student gets murkier, cops find boy's SIM cards with sweeper

Updated: 23 December, 2017 10:35 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Kanpur cops question hostel sweeper over his contradictory statements regarding Badlapur boy Akshay Kamble's Nov 29 disappearance

With every passing day, the mystery around Akshay Kamble's disappearance from IIT Kanpur is getting murkier. Why does the hostel sweeper have Akshay's SIM cards? Did he withdraw Rs 10,000 just for the trip home? Why didn't he make it to Kanpur railway station? These are some questions the cops are yet to figure out.

Akshay Kamble
Akshay Kamble

"Already 23 days have passed, and the cops are still picking up the pieces. There are many suspicious things that indicate foul play in Akshay's disappearance. Cops must take the probe seriously," said Akshay's father, Bhimrao Kamble, who had earlier alleged that the 20-year-old was ragged mercilessly by fellow students at IIT-Kanpur before he went missing. So far, the investigation by the Kanpur police has presented more questions than answers.

Akshay Kamble was seen leaving the IIT Kanpur campus at 10.14 pm on November 29
Akshay Kamble was seen leaving the IIT Kanpur campus at 10.14 pm on November 29

Where did he go?
mid-day had reported on December 20 that CCTV footage showed Akshay leaving the campus in an autorickshaw at 10.14 pm on November 29. He had called his mother at 9.50 pm to say that he was going to take a train home to Mumbai for the semester break. That was the last anyone heard from him. The police had questioned the rickshaw driver, who said he had dropped the youth at Kanpur railway station. But cops checked all three CCTV cameras at the station's gates, and there was no sign of Akshay.

Also read: Cops probing why missing IIT-Kanpur student never reached his Mumbai home

Semester drop?
What's equally curious is the fact that Akshay - a brilliant and dedicated student - had started skipping classes, possibly with the intention of taking a semester drop. He had completed four semesters with a CPI (Cumulative Performance Index) of more than 7.5 (equivalent to over 80 per cent). But the fifth semester was different.

"We had a discussion and he said that the fifth semester was a bit tough, and he wanted to take a drop and attempt it later," said Bhimrao. "But he didn't inform me whether he had actually taken a break or not. According to the IIT administration, he was not attending classes, which suggests that he had taken a drop along with other students from his batch," he added.

Phone mystery
Akshay last called his mother from his mobile number around 9.50 pm on the night he went missing. CCTV footage from the IIT campus shows Akshay walking out minutes later, with a backpack and a bag in each hand. This is where the mystery deepens. After Bhimrao alleged foul play in his son's disappearance, the police started tracking the boy's phone and found that its last location was the IIT campus. "The campus was the last location of the phone before it was switched off. It has remained off since then. If anyone switches it on and inserts a SIM card, we will be able to track the user down," said an officer from the Kanpur police.

Strangely, the cops found one of Akshay's SIM cards with the campus sweeper Sooraj Walmiki. When Kalyanpur cops questioned him, the sweeper said Akshay had given him the SIM. Akshay also had a second SIM card, but Walmiki said he did not know where it was. This was a lie; after roping in technical assistance, the cops found the other SIM card with Walmiki as well. The police are yet to determine why Walmiki lied.

Laptop, ATM card abandoned
The Kalyanpur cops found Akshay's laptop abandoned in his hostel room. As far as Bhimrao knew, Akshay had packed all his stuff, including the laptop, and deposited it in the warden's room (as is the norm when any IITian leaves his/her room for vacations). Cops also found Akshay's ATM card in his room and have retrieved CCTV footage from an ATM centre where Akshay is seen withdrawing Rs 10,000 around 4 pm on the same evening.

This brings us to the final mystery in the case: Why would Akshay withdraw so much money when he was heading home for the holidays anyway? By all accounts, he was always careful with money. While living on campus, he used his mother's account, in which his parents had parked a healthy sum. But Akshay would never withdraw more than R5,000 at a time, unless it was for tuition or stationery expenses.

Cops to probe students

Dr Gaurav Grover, SP (City West/Kanpur Nagar)
'On Wednesday, we met with Akshay Kamble's father Bhimrao. We have decided to start fresh investigations in the case by recording the statements of Akshay's roommate and other friends. We are trying our best to find Akshay'

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First Published: 22 December, 2017 08:39 IST

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