A tilefitting contractor identified as Harshsahai Gurjar has been arrested for the murder of a 30-year-old woman and her 11-year-old daughter in Surat, India.
The accused, 27, had tortured and raped the 11-year-old girl for at least a week before killing her.
According to Indian media, the man had tried desperately to sell her off to paedophile sex gangs as she had witnessed him killing her mother.
He had sent the child’s pictures to several gangs on online social media and was desperately trying to sell her off but when his efforts did not yield any response, Gurjar began torturing and raping the child before strangling her to death.
On March 20, Gurjar murdered the girl’s mother near a construction site in Surat. For 15 days following the murder, he had tried to sell off her daughter to paedophile sex gangs through online social media, claimed police sources.
He had also sent her pictures to them on Whatsapp, but the gangs had been cautious following frequent police raids in different parts of the country as part of Operation Muskaan to rescue missing children.
Having failed to sell her off, he began raping and torturing the child to scare her into keeping quiet about her mother’s murder. However, despite the brutality, the child kept accusing him of killing her mother.
Fearing she would reveal the incident to someone and land him in police custody, Gurjar decided to get rid of her on April 5. After strangulating her to death that evening, he drove to Jiav Budhiya road in a black car and dumped her body behind the bushes. Her body, with 76 injury marks, was recovered by the police the next day.
It has also emerged that Gurjar used to sodomise minor boys working at the construction sites and sexually assault women workers.
Technical surveillance carried out by Ahmedabad Crime Branch has revealed that he was in touch with paedophiles on online social media. A 450-page surveillance report, prepared after analysing his cellphone data and social media websites, was also handed over to the Surat Crime Branch which has been granted 11-day remand of the accused.
The police had produced Gurjar in Special POCSO Court in Surat last Sunday, seeking a 14-day remand. The cops told the court that they needed to know how and at which spot was the mother killed, what weapons were used for torture, how was the body disposed of and with whose help, where all had the girl been kept from March 20 to April 6 and who all had helped him in disposing of her body.
Judge Mamta Patel granted the police remand till 3 pm on May 3. Commissioner of Police, Surat, Satish Kumar Sharma, said:
“We have got an 11-day remand of the accused. We will seek further remand if needed.”
At present a team of 75 policemen are involved in the investigation of the case. An offence of human trafficking has also been added in the FIR against the accused. Sharma added:
“In all, seven accused are involved in the case till now. A team of Surat Crime Branch cops has gone to Rajasthan to hunt for the agent involved in sending the mother and child to Gurjar.”
According to Surat Crime Branch officials, Gurjar, who had earlier confessed to his crime, has not been cooperating with the investigation.
Sources said there is no hint of remorse on his face and he refuses to clearly answer any question pertaining to investigation.
Officials searched his house at Someshwar Society in Pandesara on Sunday and seized the victim’s clothes and other evidence from the room where she was kept. It is believed that the body of a woman which was found in Pandesara on April 9 is that of the murdered girl’s mother.
Her DNA test results are expected by Tuesday. Cops will carry out a reconstruction of the crime to ascertain how the murders were executed.
Sources said Gurjar used “bonded labourers” and sexually abused women among them. His wife, after becoming aware of it, used to fight with him over the issue. They had a showdown and his wife left his home last year and went to her parents’ place for three months. Even his brother Harisinh used to admonish him for his brutality against women workers and they’ve had several fights over it.
According to Gurjar’s statement to Surat cops, he came in contact with the mother-daughter victims through his friend who had brought them to Surat.
He had hired both of them as labourers for his tile-fitting work. During their stay in Surat, he entered into a physical relationship with the mother who then sought a legal stamp over their affair. Gurjar was not keen to accept her and reportedly got angry. He met the woman and her daughter in the presence of a friend to discuss this issue on March 20.
They left in a white car towards Pandesara-Sachin road. In the vehicle, heated arguments were exchanged between the woman and Gurjar and in a fit of rage, he strangled her in presence of the minor girl and disposed of the body.
Officials further said Harsh gave the minor shelter in his home where she confided about her mother’s murder to Harisinh and others. Harsh realised that the girl posed danger to him.
On April 5, he took her on the terrace of his house where she was gang-raped thrice and assaulted by the accused and his accomplices. Later, Harsh strangulated her and disposed of her body using a neighbour’s black car, according to his statement. Sources also said Harsh was a habitual drinker and three prohibition cases were lodged against him in the past. He seldom paid full salary to the labourers.
Amended POCSO Act applicable to Surat case?
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told Mirror:
“The provisions of the amended POCSO Act will be applicable to the Surat rape case. All the legalities regarding the same will be studied by the home department.