Mumbai cops shamed in missing techie case

Mumbai cops shamed in missing techie case

Mumbai Cops Shamed In Missing Techie Case. The night after Delhi's law minister was staging a televised midnight raid in Delhi, a family gathered in...

The night after Delhi's law minister was staging a televised midnight raid in Delhi, a family gathered in Mumbai from Machilipatnam near Vijayawada. They first huddled together in a police station, and then in the dark mortuary of a public hospital. The tale of 23-year-old Esther Anuhya, employed with Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, had reached the dark turn they had been dreading for days. Esther, who had gone missing on January 5 after alighting at the suburban Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and had just been found that evening, dead, partially burnt, her body decomposed beyond recognition, blunt injuries on her body.

They had told the Mumbai Police on January 6 that they had traced her cellphone's last signal to Bhandup, but not only had the police been unwilling and their response cold, but the body was also eventually found by despairing family members who formed search parties. Over the next few days, amid the din of the vigilante ministers and the Sunanda Tharoor-Kejriwal dharna headlines, the sorry tale of the Mumbai Police's inaction and tragedy was covered quietly. The story might have ended there, for the headlines at least, had it not been for statements from Mumbai Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh who said that it was in fact the Mumbai Police who found the body. Dr Singh even told CNN-IBN that there appear to be vested interests behind the allegation that the police investigation was tardy. Firstpost spoke to several members of the search parties formed that day. All confirmed that they found the body without the assistance of police. Here are the accounts of those who were actually part of the search party.

1. Suzeeth Emmanuel, Esther's cousin: I arrived in Mumbai on 12th and we, (me, a cousin and volunteers of an NGO) walked around the Bhandup slums and up the hillock there asking people if they had seen Anuhya. We were carrying her photograph. We got nothing from there. On the morning of 16 January, we went to the Kanjurmarg police station, they didn't know that such a case was being investigated by Unit Five of the Crime Branch or that the last signal her cellphone picked up was at Bhandup. We gave them the entire case details once again but were eventually told it was not their jurisdiction. If we wanted help with searching, we would have to approach Bhandup police station. We went next to Bhandup police station. The inspector was away and we spoke to a constable on duty, gave in writing the entire case details. Eventually, we split into two groups and started combing the area in two cars. A friend of the taxi driver and two volunteers of an NGO came along too. I was leading one group and cousin Deepak was leading the other team. We searched for a couple of hours but didn't find anything. After lunch we found the body off the service road on one side of Eastern Express Highway. We could not identify the face, it was badly decomposed. There were dogs around the body. I then called out to Deepak and found a police patrol police patrol nearby and then registered a complaint. The police were initially hesitant to move the body, but we insisted. Had we left the body there another night, dogs would have destroyed it.

2. S Rufus Deepak Prasad, Esther's cousin: I was on the other side of the road when the body was found. Suzeeth was there next. He called me from across the road. After that we approached a local police patrol.

3. A member of a Mumbai-based NGO whose volunteers were searching with the family members: I sent two of our volunteers to go along when I realised that Suzeeth and Deepak had decided to search themselves. The search first concentrated on the Bhandup West area. That's when it was decided to search along Eastern Express Highway. My volunteers were with the search party until around 3 pm, but the body was found only later. There was no police patrol with the search party.

4. The FIR registered at Kanjur Marg police station by Esther's father after the discovery of the body (it was identified by the finger ring) is also amply clear. The FIR,says the family searched Bhandup East area on Mumbai-Thane line along the service road and found a body near the trees. The hands and legs of the body were partly burnt but a yellow metal ring was found on the middle finger of the right hand. Having identified the body as that of his daughter Anuhya, he had reached the Kanjur Marg police station to complain, it states. Esther's life in Mumbai will be now part of the police's investigations — the family has no information from the police, just the news updates. They know now that four men were detained, but are not sure if there were any arrests or if there is any evidence. Her laptop remains untraced too.

Esther, in sharp contrast to the wretched questions around her death, appears to have been a sunny 23-year-old, tweeting birthday wishes to Roger Federer, straightening her hair, asking Ian Somerhalder on Twitter if there would be a fifth season of Vampire Diaries. After a particularly bleak week of Mumbai's rains last August, Esther tweeted: "In 3 months, this week is of full sunlight outside with sun held high on the blue sky... Good afternun Mumbai...." For her still-wounded family, that her life was cut short by a cruel stroke of fate is tragic enough without the added injury of being called liars by senior policemen. In response to the Commissioner's statement that the body was found by the police and not by the family, they released a simple statement. The FIR is self-explanatory, they said. "We have lost a dear daughter at the age of 23. What vested interest do we have?" they asked.

Esther's father Jonathan Prasad, deeply disappointed with the Mumbai Police and with no apparent progress in the case even 20-odd days after she first went missing, approached Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who wrote to Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil directing a speedy investigation. "Mr Shinde took it quite casually," Prasad says, speaking to Firstpost over the phone from Machilipatnam. "He issued a formal letter to RR Patil." Over the days that he was in Mumbai, Prasad says, he sensed increasingly after the first three or four days that the Mumbai Police was doing nothing useful. "They kept checking the CDRs (call data records) of my daughter, pointing out that she had spoken for 20 minutes to this person or that. We had to get a ticket for one of her friends to visit Mumbai and back so that the police could speak to him — they just kept thinking that it was a boyfriend who she was with. If she had been with a boyfriend I would have been happy — her safety was primary. I sensed that she was in danger. And the police wasted the first week in checking her phone records, just saying again and again that they were checking," He approached the Aam Aadmi Party hoping somebody will raise their voice against the police inaction. "My demand is that if they have the culprits then they should recover her belongings and her laptop, then we can be sure they have the right men," Prasad says. But it has been 21 days now since his daughter went missing. "I am losing hope."


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