After Esther’s charred remains were found on January 16, the Mumbai Police, Kurla GRP and Mumbai Crime Branch formed nine teams to crack the case. They found CCTV footage of a man who seemed to be carrying Esther’s bags and walking beside her. In footage captured earlier on the same day, the same man was seen drinking alcohol from a soft drink bottle.
Armed with his photograph, the police then launched a widespread manhunt. They picked up several history sheeters, auto and taxi drivers, and porters from the LTT area. “Around 2,500 people were interrogated by the police and DNA tests also carried out on several people, to detect the case at the earliest,” said Rakesh Maria, commissioner of police, Mumbai.
The Kurla Government Railway Police (GRP) stumbled upon the first breakthrough. One of the constables of the detection staff, who was roaming the premises with the CCTV grabs, showed it to one person who told him that the man was none other than Chandrakant Sudam Sanap alias Chaukya, who is a history sheeter and a thief.
The GRP tried to find out where Sanap worked, and learnt that his brother was also a porter at CST. They picked him up for interrogation. The porter told them that Sanap was a resident of Kanjurmarg.
The police team made their way to Sanap’s house, where his parents revealed that he no longer stayed with them and had moved to Nashik. The cops managed to get a recent photo of Sanap with his wife. They left for Nashik.
“A team of Kurla GRP went to Nashik, where they learnt that Sanap had gone to Buldhana for a fair. We immediately left for Buldhana,” said a police officer from Kurla GRP.
At the fair in Buldhana, the cops could not identify Sanap, as he had grown his beard and moustache to avoid detection. However, they saw his wife, and that led them to Sanap. They made the arrest and brought him back.
Armed with the Call Detail Records, the police interrogated Sanap, who eventually admitted to the crime.