The scenic twilight calm at Kasara ghat on Tuesday was betrayed by the fervent activity at Bollywood starlet Laila Khan’s farmhouse in Igatpuri as three men started digging a trench under the glare of neon bulbs.
The bungalow, located at an isolated spot overlooking a ravine at the end of a mountain, is four kilometers off the Mumbai-Agra highway. It is where forest contractor Parvez Tak has claimed to have killed and buried Khan and five of her family members 17 months ago.
Tak had led a police team comprising 200 policemen, 25 forensic experts, 20 labourers and sniffer dogs to the spot, located next to a swing in the courtyard, where he told the crime branch officers he had buried the victims. The labourers were toiling hard to verify the claim.
An officer from the crime branch who was present at the spot said that Tak had kept misleading them throughout the day. “Following sustained interrogation, he showed us the spot where he claimed to have buried the Khan family, but we were skeptical because of his series of flip-flops. However, we had no option but go by what he said,” he said.
“After nearly four hours of digging, when we had a ditch almost 10 feet long and five feet deep, we suspected Tak was lying to us again. Every minute that passed was testing our patience,” said the officer. Tak, however, maintained that he had buried the bodies near the swing. “We asked the men to keep digging,” he said.
Half an hour later, the mystery behind the disappearance of Khan and her family since February last year, that had haunted the police for over a year, began to unravel.
The officer said, “As the trio kept removing earth, something that looked like a piece of cloth became visible under the bright lights. There was a buzz through the entire bungalow. We knew we were onto something. The cloth turned out to be a pillow cover.”
Encouraged, the trio began digging with renewed vigour. In the next three hours, six skeletons were dug out from the pit. Tak had finally spoken the truth.
An hour past midnight, a convoy of seven police vehicles, including two CSI vans, streamed out of the farmhouse, heading towards Mumbai with the remains and the murder weapons — two knives and a rod.
The officers were all smiles as the unearthing of the skeletons had laid the rumours about Khan and her family to rest.