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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai Crime News > Article > BBlunt exec murder Two get life term

BBlunt exec murder: Two get life term

Updated on: 28 May,2024 10:28 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

Even as court sentences them for murder, the two accused insist they were framed by cops, since body was never found

BBlunt exec murder: Two get life term

Kirti Vyas. File Pic

Six years after the murder of salon executive Kirti Vyas, the sessions court sentenced both accused to life imprisonment on Tuesday. The court found both accused guilty of murder, stating that the charges against them were proven.

The accused, Khushi Sahjwani and Siddhesh Tamhankar broke down in court after Judge M G Deshpande announced the verdict. Sahjwani, who was on bail, expressed her disbelief, saying she thought she would walk free due to the lack of evidence. She noted that none of the witnesses who testified had seen her or her colleague with Vyas on the day she went missing.

On hearing his sentence, Tamhankar, 42, who had been brought to court wearing a black T-shirt, shed tears. Speaking with mid-day in the courthouse corridor, he said, “What can I say? I don’t know why I was arrested and incarcerated for almost seven years. I have not done anything and never had any problem with Vyas.

The police found nothing in my case, and 1.5 months later, suddenly there was a blood sample found inside Sahjwani’s car, and we were arrested. The police manipulated everything to frame us because the case was never solved. They made us scapegoats despite having no proof against us. I had faith in the judiciary, and now we will approach the higher court,” he said, wiping his tears.

‘My biggest mistake…’

Tamhankar added, “The police claim that I picked her up from her residence, but there is no evidence of this. In fact, it was I who told the cops that on March 16, the day Vyas went missing, I was at HDFC Bank at Grant Road to get some documents for my passport. While I was going to the bank with Sahjwani, I saw Vyas and said hi to her. I used to call her ‘mom.’ I asked her, ‘Mom, where are you going? I am also going to the office, come with us’. She said she was getting late and needed to reach the office early, so we turned near the bank and dropped her near Grant Road station. Later in the evening, when I found out she hadn’t returned, I messaged her, asking, ‘Mom, where are you? Your phone is not reachable’. I told the cops that I dropped her at the station in the morning. That was my biggest mistake, and today I am convicted in the case.”

‘Where is the justice?’

Asked about the show-cause notice Vyas had issued to him for poor performance, which the police claim was a motive for the murder, he said, “I was about to complete five years with the organisation. My reporting manager was someone else, not Vyas,” he said, pointing to another person in the court whom he claimed was his manager. “I was reporting to someone else. How is Vyas's show-cause notice going to impact me to the extent that I’d end up killing her? Is there any logic to that? I was helping the cops at DB Marg in their probe. Suddenly, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch, and they found blood stains after 1.5 months, and we were arrested. I am telling you, read the documents.”

Sahjwani said, “Where is the justice? How can you charge us with murder when there is no dead body? In the Divya Pahuja case, she went missing but her body was later found. In this case, there is no body. There are 39 witnesses, and none of them testified that they saw us with Vyas. The CCTV footage of her last moment was revealed to the cops by us. She is not seen clearly anywhere in the footage. Why would we kill her when there was no enmity between us? I worked at the same salon for several years. There was absolutely no problem between us; you can ask anyone there.”

Accused’s kin break down

The family members of both accused, who were present in court, also broke down after the court's order. “I thought that after six years my brother would walk free and we would take him home, but the court’s decision was unexpected. We were hopeful as there was no evidence against him, only the blood samples, which we believe were manipulated. I know my brother, and I asked him many times about Vyas. She was also a woman, someone’s sister and daughter. He explained everything to me, and I trusted him. There is no reason he would have killed her. The cops have found scapegoats in both because they were unable to trace the missing girl,” said Tamhankar’s sister Sichita.

“Our entire family has been destroyed by this case. My father died within a year, and my mother, who was healthy, now has several illnesses because of this case. I can't describe how much our family has suffered. I understand what the family of the deceased is going through, but none of them were ever seen in court," she added.

The case

Vyas, who was a resident of Grant Road was working with BBlunt salon in Andheri as an executive in the accounts department. She was a charted accountant and law graduate. She went missing on March 16, 2018, while on her way to her office. The DB Marg initially investigated the matter before it was transferred to the Mumbai Crime Branch, the then-Joint Commissioner of Crime Sanjay Saxena formed a special team to look into the case. The crime branch initially had doubts about both the accused. The crime branch took the help of the Kalina Forensic Laboratory staffers, who found blood stains in Sahjwani’s car after 1.5 months. The stains matched blood samples of Vyas’s parents and the accused were arrested by the Crime Branch who later confessed to the cops that they had killed Vyas in a moving car and later dumped her body in a creek near Mahul in Chembur. The Crime Branch made all possible attempts to trace her body for several days and even used drones but it has not been found. The court convicted the accused on Monday under Indian Penal Code Sections 302 (murder) 364 (kidnapping) 201 (destruction of evidence) and 341 (wrongful restraint).

Official Speak

Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare said, “It was a very challenging case since the body was not available, but there was strong circumstantial evidence against the accused. The CCTV footage showed they were last seen with her, and the call detail reports were incriminating. The final piece of evidence was the blood stains found inside the car of one of the accused, which played a crucial role in securing the conviction. We were very confident despite the unavailability of the body, and we correctly cited a Supreme Court order before the court. I believe the court has considered all aspects of the case. I have not read the full order yet, but the judgment is satisfying.”

According to the prosecution, Vyas had handed a show-cause notice to accused Tamhankar over his “poor performance”, and he had asked her to retract it, even the day before she went missing. The police claimed that the organisation was looking for Tamhankar’s replacement, which he did not like. Tamhankar, who was also having an affair with Sahjwani, who was already married to someone else, never wanted Vyas to reveal this to anyone, according to the police. The cops cited these two possible reasons for Tamhankar strangling her on March 16 after picking her up from her residence in the Sahjwani’s car, promising to discuss the show-cause notice and drop her at Grant Road railway station.

Lakhmi Gautam, joint commissioner, crime, told mid-day, “The Crime Branch is specialised in dealing with such cases. This case was rare where the body was not found, but the evidence was supported by very strong circumstantial grounds, leaving no probability of anyone else’s involvement. The forensic team did a great job in finding the blood traces. It was a result of the hard work of the crime branch and the forensic team to ensure that the deceased gets justice.”

Investigator’s inputs

Police Inspector Sachin Mane, the investigating officer of the case, played an important role in gathering technical evidence against the accused. Speaking to mid-day, he said, “I was sure that the accused would receive maximum punishment in the case, as their guilt was proven beyond doubt. Every single piece of evidence pointed towards them. We pieced together everything under the guidance of our seniors, and today we can see the result.”

He added, “The accused played smart with the family of the deceased and the police during the initial days of the investigation. He never revealed to anyone that he, along with the female accused Khushi, picked up Vyas from her residence until her family started scanning the CCTV footage. He got scared and informed his boss about picking her up from her residence the day she went missing. That was the first breakthrough we got to probe his role. When we started scanning the call detail records (CDRs), we found that the phone of the deceased was turned off near Jijamata Nagar in Worli, and at the same time, the car was there according to CCTV footage. This is not a coincidence. It deepened our doubt about the accused, and when we found bloodstains in the car that matched with the DNA of the deceased’s parents, we arrested the accused.”

Mane is currently posted at the Nehru Nagar police station.

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