By QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Nov 18 (IANS) A 22-year-old woman — who was the victim of a diabolical acid-cum-petrol burning attack — had walked out of her marriage to elope with her long-time lover, who later turned out to be her accused-killer, preliminary police investigations have revealed, officials said on Wednesday.
The accused, Avinash R. Rajure, 25, and the victim — Savitra D. Ankulkar — had been living together in Pune, where he was employed with the global consumer giant, Haier, as a technician.
Rajure was nabbed by the Beed Police on Sunday from a hideout in Nanded and the following day, remanded to a week’s police custody by Beed Court Joint Civil Judge Kadir A. Sarvari.
The District Deputy Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Sawant’s initial probe found that the accused and the victim reportedly had an affair for past five years.
In between she was married off to a local boy, more than two years ago. However, the marriage did not last long as she ditched him to run away with Rajure.
“According to the accused (Rajure), she dumped her husband and moved to Pune with him where they allegedly got married in a temple ceremony and cohabited since past couple of years, while her husband and parents remained unaware of the developments,” Sawant told IANS.
Among other things that have emerged in the preliminary probe, the woman reportedly wanted a child which the accused opposed and that may have soured relations as he was apparently not ready for any long-term liaison with her.
“Since past two years, neither the woman’s husband nor her parents lodged any police complaint for fear of social stigma. Moreover, she had severed all links with her family and in-laws’ side in the past two years,” Sawant said.
Savitra’s case shot into prominence for the ghastly manner in which she was allegedly attacked by Rajure on Diwali day as they proceeded by motorcycle from Pune to their native village Shelgaon in Nanded, a distance of around 450 km.
On November 14, around 2 a.m., Rajure stopped the bike at a desolate stretch in the Yellamb Ghats region and launched the murderous attack on Savitra, said the In-Charge of Neknur Police Station Laxman Kendre, who was the first to reach the crime scene.
First, Rajure attempted to strangulate her but she fought back, then he removed a bottle of acid and threw it on her as she screamed for help at the dead of the night in that remote area. (IANS first reported it on Nov. 15.)
Not stopping at this, he removed petrol from his vehicle, poured it on her, set her afire, pushed her into a deep ditch beside the road, and while she burst into flames, he sped off from there.
It was only around 12 hours later — on Saturday afternoon 2 pm — a shepherd tending to his flock heard her agonizing whimpers from the ditch and alerted the Neknur Police, which reached there shortly.
A police team rushed Savitra to the Beed Civil Hospital where she was diagnosed with over 50 per cent burn injuries, but after a valiant 16-hour battle for life, finally breathed her last on Sunday morning, Kendre added.
The Beed Police led by Sawant and others got cracking on the case, even as a major political furore erupted in the state between the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Sawant said that based on “all circumstantial evidence”, besides a brief dying declaration by Savitra and other inputs, the accused was alone in that area at the time of the crime in the early hours of Nov. 14.
“Further investigations and sustained interrogation of the accused is underway to ascertain he is telling the truth, plus we may need to question the families of the accused, the girl’s parents and her husband,” Sawant informed.
Taking serious note of the incident on Saturday, the state government had ordered the police to take all steps to ensure speedy justice to the victim, and the BJP has demanded that the state should enact a Disha-type legislation to prevent such heinous crimes against women.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])