An 18-year-old woman from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region was allegedly raped and strangled to death in her fourth floor room of a government women’s hostel in south Mumbai’s Charni Road. The suspect, identified as security guard Prakash Kanojia, who also worked as laundry man, ended his life soon after.
Police said that Kanojia’s body was found on the tracks near Charni Road station on Tuesday morning. An senior officer said that the victim’s room was locked from the outside. When the door was opened, the woman was found dead with a ‘dupatta’ around her neck. Police suspect that she was murdered after rape.
The body of the woman was taken for an autopsy to JJ Hospital at 8.15pm. Official police sources on Wednesday said that the post-mortem is still not over. Deputy police commissioner Pravin Munde said a case of murder was registered at the local police station.
The woman, a resident of Akola, was reportedly a single child and a second-year polytechnic student. Her hostel mate had asked her to come to her room as she was alone on the fourth floor, but the victim said she preferred to stay in her room, police said, adding that this fellow student was the last to speak to the 18-year-old at 11.30 pm on Monday.
The hostel currently has only 40-50 girls as many of them, including the victim’s roommate, went home for vacation.
According to a report in Times on India, the hostel authorities went looking for the girl on Tuesday evening as she was not responding to calls. When the staff reached her room, they found it locked from outside. The woman, however, had not signed at the main gate about going out.
The authorities then looked into the room through the window and found the student’s body. They immediately alerted the local police. The report stated that a team of forensic experts from the Kalina lab broke the padlock, opened the room and collected evidence, including fingerprints, from the crime scene.
The TOI report stated that each floor has 30 rooms in the ground-plus-five storey hostel for girl students. There are three security guards at the ground-plus-five storey hostel, including Kanojia from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh, who was also the laundry man.
Kanojia was caught on the hostel’s CCTV leaving a bundle of laundry clothes near the security cabin at the main gate and leaving at 4.55am on Tuesday.
The report stated that police then retrieved CCTV footage from the area and found Kanojia heading towards the railway station. When police checked with the railway police, they found an accidental death case registered with them. Police have seized Kanojia’s mobile phone, which he left on the hostel premises.
While the Kanojia family hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh, Prakash’s father works in Colaba. He earlier used to work at the same hostel The guard’s younger brother also worked at the hostel, but is on a month-long leave. The TOI report satted crime branch officials also visited the spot and made inquiries.
• State women and child welfare minister Mangalprabhat Lodha visited the hostel late at night. The report quoted him as saying that some of the girls staying at the hostel had exams on. “They will vacate the place after their exams are over," Prabhat said. The hostel will undergo redevelopment.
• BJP Maharashtra women’s wing president Chitra Wagh is expected to reach the hotel by 11:30 am on Wednesday.
• “A murder in the heart of Mumbai shows that there’s no fear of the police in Shinde-Fadnavis government. The police does not have time for law and order as most officers are deployed to protect the ministers and other politicians. If such an incident is taking place in Mumbai, can’t image what other regions of Maharashtra might be going through," NCP leader Mahesh Tapase said, adding that he will meet Mumbai DGP over the incident.