The Navi Mumbai police took a U-turn in the rape and murder case of a 5-year-old girl in Vashi, saying that they had arrested the wrong man, but have now caught a 53-year-old neighbour Dattatrey Rokade instead.
They have released Arun Pawar, 42, an electrician whom they had earlier said was the accused.
The child had gone missing on January 22 from Om Sai apartment at Kopri village in sector 26A of Vashi. Her body was later found outsider her house at 2.30am. Medical reports confirmed that she had been raped. Pawar was detained the next day and formally arrested the day after that.
On Friday, however, the police announced the changed in accused at a hurriedly-called press conference. Fattehsingh Patil, additional commissioner of police, said, "We have arrested Rokade, who lives just four houses away from the child's, on the ground floor. He has confessed to the crime."
Asked why Pawar had originally been named as the accused, Patil said, "The child's mother had pointed him out as a suspect. His behaviour seemed suspicious, and some other evidence also appeared to point to him."
"But when we continued our investigation and interrogated people in the neighbourhood, Rokade's family members told us that had been acting strange since the incident. He was quieter than usual," Patil said.
The police arrested Rokade from his home. They have called in a forensic team from Kalina, which is looking at all the evidence against him.