On 6 April, an 11-year-old girl’s body was found near a cricket ground in Bhestan area of Surat, with 86 injury marks on the body. The postmortem report revealed that she was sexually assaulted two-three times before being murdered.
Three days later on 9 April, cops found an almost decomposed body of a woman dumped in the same area where the girl’s body was found. Police suspected that the woman and the child are related and a DNA test proved the same.
The girl’s name and her mother’s identity remain unknown albeit cops have traced their origins to Delhi. According to police sources, the mother and daughter were sold multiple times before being finally sold to Harsh Gurjar (the main accused in the case) during Diwali last year.
Police have added charges of human trafficking in its FIR against the main accused in the case, Harsh Gurjar, who was arrested from Gangapur in Sawai Madhopur district, Rajasthan on 21 April.
It All Began in Delhi
Police sources reveal that the mother was a penniless widow, who along with the 11-year-old, was sold multiple times in and around Delhi before she met one of the key accused in the case, Kuldeep Gurjar.
Kuldeep promised them money and work at a construction site, and brought them to Gangapur in Rajasthan on that pretext. In Gangapur he sold them off to Harsh Gurjar for Rs 35,000, around Diwali last year, with the help of his close aide Mukesh Gurjar.
Soon the ill-fated duo came to Surat along with Harsh, and were employed at his tile-fitting site in Kamrej, on the outskirts of Surat. According to a press release issued by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Harsh lodged the mother and daughter at the under construction 'Kamrej Mansarovar Apartments’ block No. E-105 for two-and-a-half months.
Plotting a Murder
The woman toiled at the tile-fitting site, and over time developed an intimate relationship with Harsh. With the secluded apartment offering Harsh an upper hand, he was involved in a sexual liaison with the mother of the 11-year-old.
The woman wanted Harsh to take the young girl and her to his home. Harsh, who was already married with two children and shared a torrid relationship with his wife, found himself in a spot with this proposition.
On 20 March, Harsh along with a co-accused Hariom Gurjar, decided to take care of business and assaulted the woman in the presence of her daughter at the apartment they were lodged in. They then took the duo in a white WagonR car where the arguments escalated.
In a fit of rage, Harsh strangled her to death in the car and dumped her body near the cricket ground in Bhestan, while the daughter watched in horror.
The mother’s body was eventually discovered in a partially decomposed state on 9 April, a few days after the girl’s body was discovered.
Coup de grâce: Killing The Minor
Harsh lived in a three-storey apartment building in Someshwar Society, Pandesara with his family, his brother Harisinh Gurjar and his family. Besides these two families some tenants and workers who were employed by Harsh also lived in the same building.
According to the press release issued by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch, the girl was brought to Harsh’s home on 1 April, where she was regularly threatened and assaulted with wooden sticks and taken to the roof at night to be raped.
Often the girl, when playing in the apartment complex, would tell tenants and visitors how she stood witness to her mother’s death at the hands of Harsh.
These revelations would translate to more beatings and sexual abuse by Harsh. Finally, on the night of 5 April when the girl’s shrill cries heightened, Harsh took her to the roof, along with few other men and gangraped her one last time, following which he strangulated her to death.
Harsh then borrowed his neighbour Ram Naresh’s car to dispose the girl’s body, seven minutes away from their residence at the cricket ground in Bhestan.
According to police sources, Harsh dumped the girl’s body close by as no one had discovered the woman’s body yet. When Harsh returned the car to Ram Naresh, the latter asked after his late night urgency to which Harsh replied, ‘mere saath jo ladki rehti thi woh mar gayi, usse daal ne gaya tha’ (the girl who stayed with me passed away, so I went to bury her).
During the five days that the young girl lived with Harsh, she was physically assaulted, tortured and raped. Even as she would scream and shout, Harsh’s family never intervened. No questions were raised by any of Harsh’s neighbours or tenants either, despite the girl opening up on her mother’s murder quite often. The police is probing into the involvement of Harsh’s wife in the case.
Even after the Surat minor rape case went viral, none of the neighbours or tenants came forward to identify the girl. Surat police department had printed 1,200 posters of the girl and floated them across the city asking for her details against a cash reward of Rs 20,000.
Arrest and Investigation
Harsh Gurjar was arrested by Ahmedabad Crime Branch officials from Rajasthan on the morning of 21 April. He was tracked in the state’s Sawai Madhopur district.
Police have arrested Harisinh Gurjar, Amarsinh Gurjar and Naresh Gurjar – cousins and accomplices of Harsh Gurjar. The police is on the lookout for Mukesh Gurjar who sold the mother and daughter to Harsh, Kuldeep Gurjar who is accused of trafficking the girl and the mother, and Hariom Gurjar who had helped Harsh dispose the bodies.
The investigation has not yet shed light on where the girl was kept between 20 March and 1 April. The main accused, Harsh has been sent to 11 days police custody till 3 May.
. Read more on India by The Quint.Surat Horror: How A Mother-Daughter Duo Was Sold, Raped & KilledSiddaramaiah Tops Karnataka’s Popularity Chart, Congress Flounders . Read more on India by The Quint.