Sunil Rastogi came to Delhi by the Sampark Kranti Express and no other train, travelled only on odd dates and wore the same set of clothes -- a red jacket and a pair of blue jeans.
Delhi was a happy hunting ground for him. He could find a prey easily -- schoolgirls between the age of 7 and 11 -- and get back home safe after raping them, Delhi Police officials alleged.
He did it for 13 years. The red jacket was his lucky charm.
But, on Saturday 38-year-old Rastogi’s luck ran out. A tailor from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, he was arrested from east Delhi’s Kalyanpuri.
He was arrested for allegedly raping two minors and molesting another in New Ashok Nagar. “During questioning, he admitted to his involvement in various other cases in the area of New Ashok Nagar, Ghaziabad and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand,” Omvir Singh, DCP (East), said.
He confessed to raping at least 13 girls but then kept changing his statement, police sources said.
Police suspect the list of victims to be much longer, as Rastogi, who has five children, two of them girls, frequently visited Delhi. He also has cases against him in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
In the Capital, Rastogi used to prowl schools between 2pm and 4pm when students used to leave for home.
He carried a list of girl schools in his pocket. He would follow a group for a short distance and then pick a child who would stray from others.
He would tell the victim he was a friend of her father’s who had sent clothes and snacks. For every victim, he would stitch a new set of clothes and wrap a new parcel.
“He would tell the child he had more presents for her and would take her with him and sexually assault her,” a police source said.
A secluded staircase in New Ashok Nagar was his “safe” spot. At other times, he assaulted the girls in a dingy lane or a godown.
“We received two strikingly similar complaints of minors being assaulted in New Ashok Nagar. The minors in their statement said the man was wearing a red jacket and promised them more new clothes,” a police officer said.
- December 24: A 60-year-old auto-rickshaw driver attempts to rape a 10-year-old girl in east Delhi’s Geeta Colony. The man had made a similar attempt on the same girl three months ago
- December 16: Two men allegedly kidnap a 13-year-old girl from outside her house in northeast Delhi’s Khajoori Khas, take her to a nearby shop and attempt to gang-rape her. A local resident sees the two men entering the shop with the girl and informs her family members, who are already looking for her in the locality.
- November 21: A four-year-old girl in northwest Delhi’s Keshav Puram is found murdered near her house. Police suspect sexual assault. They recover a CCTV footage that shows her neighbour carrying her into the bushes near her house.
- September 3: An eleven-monthold baby is abducted and raped by her neighbour in west Delhi’s Vikaspuri.
- July 25: A 4-year-old girl is allegedly kidnapped and raped by her 28-year-old neighbour in outer Delhi’s Shahbad Dairy. She suffers injuries in her private parts and is admitted to a government hospital. The accused, Junaid, has been arrested.
- July 23: A 14-year-old Dalit girl is allegedly raped several times by her neighbour and forced to drink a ‘corrosive substance’ that severely damages her internal organs in north Delhi’s Burari. The girl later succumbs to her injuries during treatment at hospital.
- May 25: A 13-year-old girl with Down Syndrome is admitted to AIIMS after she is kidnapped, brutally raped and dumped near the railway tracks allegedly by her neighbour in southeast Delhi’s Pul Prahladpur. She suffers bruises on her neck and abdomen.
A team was formed to identify the man after another complaint was received on December 13, the officer said.
Police scanned the CCTV footage of the area where Rastogi had raped the girls. Police were able to identify him but his face was not clearly visible. They spoke to the vendors and some of victims and got a sketch made. They went door to door with the sketch.
On Saturday, police were alerted about Rastogi’s presence in the area. A raid led to his arrest.
Rastogi can’t believe his 13-year-run is over. He told police he was certain they would never get him.
“He seems to be mentally sick as he has some very weird notions. He is very superstitious and said he came by Sampark Kranti Express only and cancelled his visit if he missed the train,” the DCP said.
He used to chant after getting down from the train. He believed that if he abused girls wearing his red jacket he would never get caught, Singh said.