When Navi Mumbai Commissioner of Police Sanjay Kumar assumed charge after being transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) this year, the unsolved case of the rape and murder of two minors in 2010 troubled him.

Mr. Kumar said
, “
I was supervising the case then and it was always on my mind as it remained unsolved. It is a coincidence that my team in Navi Mumbai finally cracked the case after I joined it. While in the CID, we had profiled 958 men, but none of their DNAs matched.”

The Kurla link

On September 23, Ganesh Visarjan, officials of the Navi Mumbai Police’s Central Unit were speaking about a serial rapist who was on the run. An official from coastal security department joined the conversation and said the Nehru Nagar rape and murder cases in Kurla were also not yet solved. On September 27, Rehan Abdul Rashid Qureshi (34) was identified as the serial rapist and nabbed from Mira Road.

During his interrogation, Mr. Qureshi mentioned that he stayed in Kurla for a short while. A Crime Branch officer said, “The mention of Kurla rang a bell in my mind. My suspicion grew when he kept ignoring all our questions on his stay in Kurla.”

Meanwhile, the police recorded the statement of his elder brother Imran. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Ajay Kadam said, “Imran told us that they stayed in Kurla from 2004 to 2010. But Qureshi always maintained that their stay lasted only a few months. The CID had the DNA profile of the person wanted in the Nehru Nagar rape and murder cases. So we sent the samples for forensic examination.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Tushar Doshi, said, “While speaking about himself, he used to tell us everything, but skipped talking about the year ‘2010’. We could sense there was something wrong. Finally, the DNA results were out and Qureshi’s DNA matched with that of the accused in the Nehru Nagar rape and murder cases.”

The officials did not want to confront Mr. Qureshi with the DNA report and wanted him to confess to his crimes on his own. So they took him to Kurla and showed him the place where he stayed and the place where the minors were abducted from.

Keeping secrets

The officer said, “Qureshi seemed disturbed and tensed when he reached Kurla. He had started losing his sleep. We kept asking him to tell us what was on his mind. We told him that if he wants his sleep back, he should reveal what he has been hiding. That’s when he broke down for the first time since his arrest. He said if someone in his family had spoken to him like a friend, he would have not have committed those crimes. He then admitted to raping and killing the minor girls in Nehru Nagar.”

Mr. Qureshi said while staying in Kurla, he made a few friends who brought him porn magazines and held discussions on it with him. He said exposure to the magazines triggered him to pursue a six-year-old on February 9, 2010 and rape her. Mr. Qureshi said he did not intend to kill girl, but accidentally smothered her while raping her. His second victim was a nine-year-old whom he raped and strangled on March 7, 2010.

In August 2010, he got a job in Saudi Arabia and left India. He returned in 2015 and joined his family which had shifted to Kharghar. Soon he started targeting girls above 10 years. An officer said, “The Nehru Nagar incidents bothered him. Now, he fled after a victim resisted his advances and did not try to close their mouths to restrain them. He did not want anyone to know he was the one who had raped and killed the minors in Nehru Nagar.”

‘Porn and frustration’

The police said Mr. Qureshi started preying on children after reading the porn magazines, but later it became a means to vent his frustration. An officer said that he was frustrated with the poverty and frequents fights at home. Mr. Qureshi was arrested in 2015 in a molestation case registered with Taloja police and later found to be involved in 19 more cases, including two rape and murder cases, eight rapes and nine molestation cases. He is now under police custody till Wednesday in connection with a molestation case filed with the Nerul police.

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