A wad of Rs 10 notes, ‘folded in a peculiar manner’ and stained with Mobil oil, was the turning point on which the Delhi Police cracked the sensational Dhaula Kuan gangrape case.
The money — 11 notes in all — were given to the 30-year-old victim by her five rapists as they dumped her on an isolated stretch of road on the night of November 24, 2010. They left her with the words “ye le auto ke paise, ghar chali jaiyyo (here’s money for an auto ride home)”, police officers associated with the probe recalled Tuesday.
Little did they know, their ‘generosity’ would lead the police straight to them.
“The notes, folded horizontally down the middle, and the oil stains made us realise these must have changed hands either on an interstate transport bus or through truck drivers,” said one officer. The folds were also similar to how toll booth operators keep their change.
A top investigation team — comprising inspectors Rajinder Singh and Atul Sood among others — led by then DCP (south Delhi) HGS Dhaliwal was set up.
The second breakthrough came when the police got their hands on hazy images of a mid-sized goods carrier from a near-defunct CCTV camera mounted on a building in Mochi village, where the abduction took place.
With the help of several sources, the police traced two of the accused, Shamshad and Kale, to Dhaujj village in Haryana’s Mewat region — notorious for its high crime rate and violent resistance to law enforcement. Taking no chances, a 300-strong police posse was dispatched to Dhaujj on the night of December 2, 2010, to arrest the two.
The police also found the Mahindra pick-up seen in the CCTV footage. Its left window had a sticker with the word ‘Muskan’ spelt in English — matching the victim’s statement to the police.
The remaining three accused were arrested within the next week.
“We were sure of conviction, given the water-tight investigation we had conducted and the courage of the complainant who participated in a test identification parade within days of the incident. But the verdict has been delayed for far too long,” said BK Gupta, the then police commissioner.
He added, “What makes this a little bittersweet is the fact that Delhi still doesn’t have the network of CCTV cameras I had got sanctioned from the home ministry before retiring in 2012.”