Tracing the Night Hyd Vet Was Raped, Killed: Eye-Witnesses Recall
It was 5 am on Thursday, 28 November, and Narasimha, a resident of Chatanpally village under Shadnagar police station limits in Hyderabad, was on his way to milk cows. He cut across the Bangalore-Hyderabad Highway through an underpass and noticed something burning there.
“I ignored it thinking someone must have lit the fire to keep themselves warm in the cold,” Narasimha told The News Minute. But when he returned from the fields, some time past 8 am, he noticed that a human body was burning under the underpass.
“A part of the arm was not burnt and that’s what first caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I realised it was a body being burnt,” he said.
Madhuri* (name changed), a 26-year-old veterinary doctor, had gone missing on Wednesday night. Her family had spoken to her last around 9:30 pm. The veterinary doctor was barely 3.5 km away from her residence then.
Around 9:44 pm, her family realised that her phone was switched off. Her burning body was found 25 km away under an underpass near Chatanpally by Narasimha and his friend Sathyam, who first alerted the police. Madhuri was gang raped and murdered allegedly by four men, who are now in police custody.
“Her body was still burning when the police arrived, they were the ones who doused the fire. Her father was also with them,” Narasimha told TNM on Saturday. “It was the father who identified that the body was his daughter’s,” he added.
The Notorious Area With No Compound Walls
Parasnath Singh from Bihar sells tea to truckers in the night and lives in the watchman room adjoining the compound wall — just next to a toll booth of Hyderabad's Outer Ring Road — where Madhuri was gang raped and killed.
“I don’t tell them anything. They park their trucks along the service road and use one part of the compound wall to have their lunch and use the bushes as a toilet. I am an outsider in this state and live here because the plot owner lets me stay. I stay alone, have always kept to myself and don’t interact with the truck drivers,” he added.
Madhuri had parked her two-wheeler at 6 pm near the compound wall and at the mouth of the service road that connects the Bangalore-Hyderabad Highway to the Nehru Outer Ring Road.
Their lorry was also parked along the service road, adjacent to the compound wall. With the plan to sexually assault her, they deflated the scooter tyre and waited, say the police. Madhuri returned from a Gachibowli hospital at 9:15 pm to pick up her vehicle and head home, only to find a flat tyre.
Areef then offered to help her get the tyre changed.Once night sets in, there are no street lights to light up this service road. The only light to shine on this stretch of road would be from the toll booth and from the junction leading up to the booth.
The only CCTV cameras on this stretch are also at these two points, which are perhaps 500 meters apart.“Even if you scream from here, no one can hear you due to the sound of vehicles on the road,” said one police officer guarding the crime scene.
Tollbooth That Had View of the Crime Scene
Sometime between 9:15 pm and 9:35 pm, Shonu was in the toll booth, when Madhuri and one of the four accused who had accompanied her, approached him.“She asked me if there was a tyre repair shop nearby. I told her that I did not know, and they kept walking towards the Shamshabad direction. I didn’t notice what happened after that. Around 10, I went to sleep,” says the youth from Kolkata, who had joined work at the toll booth barely a month ago.
“I told the police the same and helped them describe the person who was with her at the time. I really did not know where the tyre repair shop was; I am new here,” he added.
Around 9:40 pm, Madhuri’s phone was turned off. The unwalled part of the compound area and the bushes where Madhuri was gang raped and murdered is visible from the toll booth where Shonu collects toll from vehicles entering Hyderabad. His view that evening, however, was blocked by the truck of the accused. Add to this, the lights from the vehicles approaching the toll booth.
“We do three rounds of checks every evening but we have only one car and two bikes to cover this stretch and adjoining areas. We often tell the truck drivers to remove their vehicles parked along the service road, but if they are eating food, we tell them to remove it later,” said the officer.
According to the police, around 10:08 pm, the accused moved the victim’s body from the bushes into the lorry. While Siva and Naveen drove away with Madhuri’s two-wheeler after 9.30 pm, the lorry departed a few minutes later and proceeded towards Shadnagar.
Around 1 am, the accused riding the two-wheeler stopped at Essar Petrol pump near Nandigam to buy petrol. Though the distance between the toll booth and Nandigam is around 45 minutes, the lorry took more than two hours to reach the place. One can assume that the group may have looked for other places on the way to dump the body.
At the petrol pump, however, things didn't go according to plan as the pump did not sell them petrol out of suspicion. The accused then bought petrol from an Indian Oil fuel station near Kothur. The four accused also took some diesel in a bottle from their lorry. They then took a U-turn near Shadnagar crossroads and stopped on the road above the underpass near Chatanpally.
The Desolate Underpass at Chatanpally
TNM traversed on this route and found that the underpass at Chatanpally is the fifth underpass from the Tondupally toll booth. So why did the gang choose this spot to burn her body? Unlike the four other underpasses before that, which are near residences and witness regular traffic, the underpass at Chatanpally is desolate and had only agricultural fields on either side.
Parking the lorry there, they covered the body in a blanket, carried it to the underpass and set her body on fire. According to the police, this was around 2 am-2:30 am.
The accused then left the second crime scene, disposed of the two-wheeler near Kothur and proceeded towards Aramghar junction and parted ways. Areef proceeded in the lorry to deliver his load in the city.
“No one apart from a few of the farmers here and our tractors uses this underpass,” states Narasimha. As of Saturday, the four accused have been presented before the city court and were given 14-day custody to the police.
(This story has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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