Within 12 hours of finding a nine-year-old girl’s body stuffed inside a speaker box at Yeoor forest in Thane, the Vartaknagar police on Sunday morning arrested the man who allegedly raped the girl and then murdered her.
According to the police, the accused, Dashrath Yadav, 27, had allegedly lured the victim to his rented room at Ramwadi, where the victim’s family also resides, on the pretext of showing her his house. She would call him ‘uncle’.
He was caught at Bandra railway station while he was trying to escape to his brother’s house in Punjab.
The Vartaknagar police had found the body on Saturday night after an air force official alerted them about foul smell emanating from a speaker box. A rope was tied around the victim’s neck and worms were found on her decomposed body. Police suspect that the body was dumped in the forest at least three to four days ago.
While making inquiries about missing complaints, the police came across the girl’s family. “The victim’s family had filed a missing complaint on June 22 with the Shreenagar police station. Her father came to the Thane Civil Hospital and identify her body,” said KP Raghuvanshi, Thane police commissioner.
“Her parents told us that Yadav was with them when they had filed the missing complaint, but then suddenly disappeared. We tracked him down and arrested him. He was planning to flee and had dispatched his motorcycle to Uttar Pradesh.”
Originally from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, Yadav, a crane welder, and the victim’s family knew each other from their hometown. Married with two children, Yadav shifted to Thane seven years ago. He has a previous case of molestation, the police said.
The victim’s father works as a labourer with a company in Wagle Estate since 2002. The girl, her mother and brother, lived in Azamgarh.
“The victim and her mother had come to Mumbai a month ago,” said sub-inspector Meghna Burande. “On June 22, he took the girl to his place and raped her. When she started to scream for help, he strangulated her using a rope and then stuffed her body inside a speaker box, which he would give out on rent during festivals. He then took the box on his motorcycle and dumped it in the Yeoor forest.”
Police said they started to hunt for Yadav after the victim’s family got suspicious about his disappearance. They made a family member call him up to know his location. Yadav initially said he was in Bhiwandi, but the police tracked his mobile phone location to Lamington Road.
The police also traced his last call to his friends at Byculla. During interrogation, his friends said he was about to board a train. The police then laid a trap at Borivli and Bandra railway stations and finally caught Yadav.
However, the victim’s family is still in shock. “We knew him for the past 10 years. He used to frequently visit the house. We never thought that he would do something like this,” said the girl’s uncle.