The apparently mentally challenged youngster, whose body was found tied to an electric pole in Sector 13 of New Panvel on Saturday, was lynched by a mob of around 100 people. That is what the Panvel police, who have now registered a case of murder, are saying.
"We were earlier misled by residents and hence a case of accidental case was registered; now it has been changed to murder. Some residents have now informed to us how the youth and his accomplice had been caught trying to break into a parked vehicle. The residents, frustrated at regular thefts of fuel and accessories from their vehicles, decided to teach the duo a lesson and caught hold of them," Assistant Commissioner of Police Vijay Surya said.
The police had earlier claimed there were no visible injury marks on the deceased's body, but some residents told the police the youth had been badly beaten up.
"Prima facie it appears that while the victim's accomplice managed to escape, the victim was caught by a mob of almost 100 people. They tied him to the pole using a thick jute rope they found in the area. The rope is normally used by the dahi handi mandals. Once he was tied up, the mob lynched him to death."
However, no arrests have been made yet. "Though we have information, nobody has come forward to identify those present in the mob and hence we cannot arrest anyone at this stage," Surya added.
Former Senior Police Inspector of Panvel police, Dilip Nalawade (who has since been suspended in another case), had told Hindustan Times: "The youth was a beggar and mentally challenged. There are no visible injury marks on his body, just a spot on his leg, but that could not have been fatal. He was tied with a thick rope to the electric pole and hence we have registered a case of wrongful confinement."