‘Cops Refused To Track Her Phone’: Vet Doctor’s Kin On Long Night
“The inspector said we cannot track her phone. He said the operators are private operators so they will not be available now. Time is of essence in such things. They should have tracked it immediately,” Parvati* told The Quint a day after her elder sister Poornima’s* burnt body was found in Hyderabad’s Shamshabad on 28 November.
It has been a day of shock, sinking lows and anger at Poornima’s home. Sitting in their home in Shamshabad, with relatives and mediapersons coming in and out, the family is distraught. Poornima was allegedly gang-raped by four men, who have been since arrested, then suffocated and burnt to death.
Poornima had gone to meet her regular skin doctor but never returned. On the way back, she had reached out to Parvati, who was at her office then. Poornima kept saying she was increasingly suspicious and scared of a few men who were posing to help her fix her flat tyre.
‘I Misjudged My Sister’s Situation’
“Poornima asked me to talk to her for a few minutes. Looking at how oddly insistent she seemed, I kept asking her what had happened. If there was an accident or something else. I was at work I could not talk for long, but she kept insisting I should speak to her for a few minutes.”
Upon pressing, the veterinary doctor told her how the men were behaving oddly. She had parked her scooter at the toll booth and taken a bus from there. When she returned to pick up her scooter the men told her she had a flat tyre. “She said they kept insisting she cannot travel. She tried to argue and say she could. But they would not listen and insisted they would repair the vehicle. So against her will she had to let them.”
Her sister asked her to wait at the toll booth, but Poornima was concerned about the attention she would get. “She hesitated to do that. She said she would feel unsafe there too as everyone who would come and go in their cars would look at her.”
“I told her I was at work and will call her in 5 minutes, but she called me back instantly. I told her I couldn’t talk and to leave the vehicle and come. Then I told her, ‘what should I do?’ She got angry and disconnected the call.”
‘Her Phone had 10% Battery’
Parvati had given her Redmi phone to her elder sister, when she was leaving for the doctor’s appointment in the evening. “I saw that the phone only had 10 percent battery, so when I called her back at 9:44 pm it was switched off. I was not too worried. I thought she was on her way back home. I did not suspect anything.”
At 10:00 pm, Parvati’s mother, 48-year-old Vijanta*, called her enquiring about Poornima’s whereabouts. “My mother said my sister’s phone was off. I told her she will come soon. I did not tell her about the puncture as I did not want to worry her. But when she called again around 10:15 pm, I felt like it was a long time. Like it should not take Poornima half an hour. So I told my mother about the puncture.”
“I was accompanied by a driver and a male colleague and went to look for her. I thought she would be standing there. But..... she was not.”
A Mother’s Anguish
Vijanta was already out on the streets looking for her elder daughter. “When Amma got to know she just got out on the streets. She thought maybe Poornima met with an accident. Without any transport, she walked out to the highway and looked frantically.”
After not being able to find her, Vijanta told her husband Raju*. He said they should file a police complaint immediately.
Parvati went to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) police station in her office car and her mother joined her there. “The policemen accompanied me to the toll plaza and went through the CCTV recordings. While we were watching it my mother was repeatedly breaking down outside, so I kept going out.”
Parvati was desperately hoping that maybe Poornima had reached home while they were out. “So my mother used the office vehicle and went home hoping she would see Poornima. But she returned. She said Poornima was not home.” A sinking feeling had taken hold of both of them by this time.
“My mother kept saying something had happened. She had died or been killed. She was scared. She was crying. She was concerned about the men,” Parvati recalls.
Asked Cops to Track Her Phone, Cop Refused
“The inspector said we cannot track her phone. He said the operators are private operators so they will not be available now,” Parvati says. “Time is of the essence in such things. They should have tracked it immediately.”
She got to work herself. “I tried relentlessly to track her phone since the time we were at the toll booth itself. I tried to reset her gmail password and guess it as well, both didn’t work,” she says.
Parvati says she had created a Gmail account for her elder sister on a warm evening at home a few years ago. “I knew the password. But she changed it at some point. I tried to reset it with the last password I knew but it didn’t work. I also didn’t have any other source to get an OTP or anything,” Parvati says.
She didn’t stop trying. She thought if someone could do this, she was the one.
‘Cops Delayed In Registering Complaint’
The cops at the RGIA police station told Parvati that they will help investigate but they will not take the complaint. “They said that the crime does not come under their jurisdiction and asked me to go to Shamshabad police station.”
When they went to Shamshabad police station, the policemen again asked the family why they were there. “They had conversations with a few policemen after which they agreed to register the complaint,” she says.
Their father, who has a government job in Kollapur, about 150 km from Shamshabad, reached at around 3:00 am. While he went to the location again, Parvati and Vijanta were unable to sleep at home.
Identifying Her Body: The Scarf, Buckle & Emerald Necklace
“I thought whatever happened, she would come back,” Parvati says.
The police called again in the early hours of the morning and began to ask information of what she was wearing. “Me and my father went to the police station. They said they were going to a place to search for her, which was on the highway, and we should follow them closely.”
Parvati and her father drove in heart-wrenching silence. She hoped she would see her sister alive. But the next words uttered by the police petrified them. “They said there was a burnt body which we need to identify.”
Walking towards the body, Parvati recalls how she focused on identifying her. “The body was jet black but I could see the outline of her eyebrows and her right arm was not burnt. The police kept saying that we should not get stressed or scared. I looked towards my father. He was in shock. But he instantly confirmed it was his daughter.”
The police found a blue scarf with white printing which the family confirmed belonged to Poornima.
“I still did not want to believe it. I told them she had an emerald Ganapati pendant around her neck. The police searched for it and found it. There were no doubts now, my sister was dead. Her fears she had told me a few hours ago were not unfounded.”
*All the names have been altered to protect identities
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