In a boost to the case against Sunil Bharat Jadhav alias Pappu Suresh Salve, 32, the police have found an eyewitness who saw him take away a nine-year-old girl from her Shirdi home on December 28.
Salve allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered the minor.
According to police, Salve lured the girl on the pretext of giving her a chocolate and then raped her in a secluded spot before strangulating her. “He threw her body in a pit near Shirdi railway station and even slashed it with a blade. There were injury marks on the girl’s neck and other parts,” said a police officer on condition anonymity.
“We will be recording the witness’s statement under section 164 of criminal procedure code [statement before a magistrate]. We have other witnesses in the case and enough evidence to nail the accused,” RD Shinde, superintendent of police, Ahmednagar, told HT.
An identification parade will be conducted before the witnesses, the police said.
The police are now trying to find the clothes the accused and the victim were wearing at the time of the murder.
According to the police, Salve had shifted to the victim’s locality just four weeks ago, and no one in the area knew about the three murder cases of minor girls against him. His wife had delivered a baby girl a month ago.
On December 28, Salve’s wife was busy when he approached the child. Initially no one suspected anything suspicious, but the girl’s parents got worried when she did not return home for a few hours.
They suspected something was wrong when they found that Salve too was missing, the police said.
After he was arrested at Manmad railway station on January 11, Salve led the police to girl’s body.
Salve was also sentenced to death for a murder of a minor girl in 2003. However, he was acquitted by the high court in 2010.
The court concluded that the prosecution case was weak and the investigation sloppy.