Body of 9-year-old found in Juhu drain, ex-con held

Mumbai: A 35-year-old former convict was arrested on Saturday for the kidnap, rape and murder of a nine-year-old minor girl at Nehru Nagar area in Juhu. The accused, Devendra Vadivel aka Gundappa, confessed to kidnapping and raping the girl on Thursday evening and then murdering her the same night. The girl’s body was recovered from the gutter near a public toilet in Nehru Nagar, Juhu, on Saturday morning. The body was sent to the civic-run Cooper Hospital for post-mortem and Gundappa was booked for the crime.

As news of the victim’s body being found spread, over 300 people from the area protested outside Juhu police station, demanding Gundappa be hanged on the spot. Led by the women in the area, the residents jammed the entire road outside the police station, even as additional reinforcements were called for and senior officers tried to reason with them. On Thursday evening, when the girl returned from school, she asked her mother for tea and biscuits. Her mother sent her out to buy the items. But when the  girl failed to return home for  hours afterwards, her family registered a case of kidnapping at Juhu police station, said police.

Locals of the Nehru Nagar area in Vile Parle began a search operation. “During our inquiries, we found that one of the residents, Gundappa, had been released from prison after serving a seven-year sentence in a rape case, for which he was convicted under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. On suspicion, we picked him up for inquiries on Friday evening,” said Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional commissioner of police (West region).

Gundappa confessed to kidnapping the girl, raping and killing her on Thursday, following which he dumped her body in the gutter between the two stalls of a public toilet. The girl’s body was recovered from the gutter in a mildly decomposed state on Saturday, at 11am and was sent to for post-mortem.

“Gundappa had been misleading police throughout the investigation. He is yet to reveal how and why he killed her, while we are awaiting the autopsy report to ascertain the exact cause of death,” said Sharma. Juhu police have booked Gundappa under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for kidnapping (section 363), rape (section 376), murder (section 302) and causing disappearance of evidence (section 201) along with relevant sections of the POCSO Act.

In February, a five-year-old girl’s body was found in an isolated lane in Mahim, after she was kidnapped, raped and killed by a pavement dweller. The victim belonged to a pavement dweller’s family and used to stay with her parents outside Razzak Manzil in Mahim. When the girl’s mother woke up around 4 am, she did not find her daughter beside her. The couple approached the police and a complaint of kidnapping was registered.

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