Khar police has filed a 500-page charge sheet into the murder of 19-year-old psychology student, Jhanvi Kukreja, who was found dead in the ground floor lobby of Bhagwati Heights, during the society’s New Year party. The deceased was a student pursuing her bachelor’s degree from Jai Hind college. The charge sheet was submitted by the Khar police department to the Bandra Magistrate Court, accusing the deceased’s “best friends” 22-year-old Shree Jogdhankar and 18-year-old Diya Padalkar of ‘Murder and Abetment’ under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
‘A lack of remorse shown by the accused’
According to the charge sheet, Yash Ahuja, the individual who organised the New Year party at the suburban Khar housing society, informed investigators that he had called the Jogdhankar (accused) to inform him that his friends’ body had been found in the building’s lobby. However, he claims to have been put off by the lack of ‘shock or surprise’ from the accused who was known to be a close friend of the deceased. This callous response to the news raised suspicions in Ahuja’s mind. “He simply did not react!” he told investigators, and alleged that the accused seemed to have foreknowledge of his friend’s death.
While investigators have not come across any eyewitnesses to the purported homicide, police have uncovered “strong circumstantial, forensic and technical evidence.” Indicating the involvement of both the accused. The charge sheet contains statements from 74 individuals, comprising of those present at the New Years party, friends of both the deceased and accused, residents and staff from the housing society.
Victim sustained 48 ante-mortem injuries
Forensic reports from the autopsy indicate that Jhanvi had received 48 ante-mortem injuries (sustained before death). These injuries ranged all the way from the deceased’s head down to her toes. A majority of the injuries the victim sustained before death were grievous. The forensic reports further highlighted the blood samples extracted from the crime scene. The blood stains which were found on both the accused in the murder case matched the victims. Blood stains were found on Jogdhankar’s shirt and on the bed and pillow Padalkar slept in after the occurrence of the crime.
When the police asked the two accused about the bloodstains found on the clothes and artefacts Jogdhankar claimed to being physically assaulted by multiple attackers with lethal intent while Padalkar alleged that she split her lips while falling. According to the police, the trio (victim and accused) had reportedly left the New Year party from the eighth floor at around 1:45 AM and went down the stairs in the wee hours of 1 January 2021.
How she was killed
A scuffle ensued on the fifth-floor stairwell in which the two accused violently attacked the victim. Jogdhankar and Padalkar dragged Jhanvi down the stairway from the fifth-floor all the way down to the second-floor. Thickets of the victim’s hair was found on the grille. According to Khar police officials, “A trail of blood stains was discovered from the fifth-floor while the murder occurred on the second-floor. Kukreja’s body was found at the end of the staircase on the ground floor.”
A friend of the accused ‘Jogdhankar’ had claimed that the accused had come up to his flat on the night of the murder with visible physical injuries. His friend took him to Sion hospital. The accused is said to have received a call at his residence about “a friend being admitted at a hospital”, upon learning this, it was reported that the accused borrowed clothes and left for the hospital.
A love triangle gone fatal?
Witnesses from the Bhagwati Heights New Year party told the police in their statements that, “Jogdhankar was seen getting intimate with Jhanvi,” while some others who had attended the party claimed that “he had gotten intimate with Padalkar.” A friend of the victim who also studies at Jai Hind college said that the Jhanvi had given her a call at 1:32 AM and broke down in tears during the call. According to the friend she told her, “You know Shree and I are very close friends. But Divya was getting physically close with Shree and I didn’t like it. I don’t want to lose any of them.”
Ahuja also told the police that when he had gone to his residence to bring Biryani to the party, he saw Padalkar lying in bed with a split lip, bleeding. He too noticed the blood stains on the pillow. She feigned ignorance upon being asked how it happened and claimed, “I do not remember.”
Playing the devil’s advocate?
While the victim’s parents have shown their faith in the justice system and police investigation, Mahesh Vaswani, lawyer to the accused ‘Jogdhankar’ has cast aspersions on the investigation, claiming that the police have not adequately investigated the injures sustained by his client and have failed to file medical documents.
“All witness statements are contradictory, and it is clear that the police have made some mistakes in filing a charge sheet against Shree Jogdhankar,” said the accused’s lawyer. Jogdhankar has given his final year Bachelor of Hospitality and Hotel Administration from within Taloja jail on Tuesday 30 March 2021.