More than two years after three-and-half-year-old Shreya Rai’s body was recovered from a construction site in Borivli, the police handed over her remains to her parents finally on Sunday. However, they remain clueless about who murdered the little girl.
Rai cremated his daughter’s remains on Sunday.
On October 14, 2009, Shreya had gone to play in the vicinity of her home in Ambaji Mandir Chawl, Sukurwadi, Borivli (East), in the evening and disappeared, her father Upendra Rai said.
After a brief search, 33-year-old Rai, an electrical engineer, filed a missing persons complaint at Kasturba Marg police station. He alleges the police, however, did not show any interest in finding his daughter.
On December 3, Rai was summoned to the police station to identify a body that had been found near a construction site about 300 metres from his home. “The head was severed and 60% of the body was decomposed. I identified her from her clothes,” said Rai.
The body was sent for a post-mortem, but Rai said the police were vague about the cause of death. “The police did not have any concrete explanation. We suspect my child has been murdered as part of a child sacrifice ritual,” he said.
The police wanted Rai to collect her remains then, but he insisted on a detailed analysis so that they could ascertain the cause of death, which could aid the investigation.
In December 2009, the samples were sent for several tests, the results of which came seven months later. Meanwhile, in June 2010, Rai appealed in Bombay high court for the case to be handed over to the CBI. “In August 2010, it was transferred to the crime branch,” he said.
The crime branch made no breakthroughs, and a year later, in August 2011, after Rai’s recurrent pleas, the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina conducted a viscera analysis. The results, which came in the same month, said Shreya had been hit on the head with a heavy object that cracked her skull and caused her death.
The procedure required Rai to withdraw the court petition so that he could be handed over his daughter’s remains. “We decided to give the police another six months to solve the case, but nothing happened so we withdrew the petition on Thursday,” said Ashish Chavan, Rai’s lawyer.
“Based on Rai’s statement, his neighbour, Pawan Pandey was arrested, but he was released on bail,” ACP Arvind Mahabadi, who was part of the crime branch investigating team, said.
“We have questioned over 450 people in two years. We have not made a breakthrough, but it is not child sacrifice. We are positive the case will be solved.”