Nearly 14 months after a woman’s headless body was found in a trolly bag at Bhuigaon beach, the police on Thursday arrested the husband for her murder. The motive behind the killing is not known yet while investigations are under way to find out where he disposed of the head.
Kalyanrao Karpe, senior police inspector of Vasai police station, said they had registered a case of murder after the body was found washed ashore on July 26, 2021.
“We checked with all the police stations in Palghar district and Mumbai and even in border areas of Gujarat and some other parts of Konkan, but did not find any missing person’s complaint matching the victim’s description. We then pasted over 200 posters across the region, but it was of no help either,” he said.
On August 30, this year, the police received information that one Sanya Shaikh, 25, had gone missing for over a year. The complaint was filed at Achole police station in Nalasopara by her relatives who had come from Belgaum in Karnataka to look for her because her husband was not answering their calls.
Karpe said they asked Sanya’s husband, Asif Shaikh, 30, and his daughter to submit their tissue samples for DNA profiling. “The daughter’s DNA matched with that of Asif and the victim’s, which proved that the body was that of Sanya.”
Asif, who worked with a logistics firm in Andheri, showed the police a letter allegedly left behind by Sanya which said that she was leaving him and his house and eloping with her boyfriend. “When we checked the handwriting, it turned out that it was written by Asif,” the officer said.
On questioning, Asif broke down and confessed that he had killed his wife and chopped her head and dumped her body in mangroves near the beach.
According to police, Sanya, an orphan, was raised by her relatives who married her off to Asif five years ago. The couple was staying in Rashmi Regency apartments in Nalasopara along with his parents, brother and his family in a two-bedroom flat. On July 21, 2021, on the occasion of Eid, Asif stabbed Sanya in their bedroom and when the rest of the family was out, he chopped her head and rolled her in a bedsheet and stuffed the headless body in a suitcase. He then went to Kalam beach and dumped the suitcase in mangroves, Karpe said.
Asif then cleaned up his room and three months later, sold the house and moved to Mumbra along with his family. “We suspect that his family members were also involved in the murder or at least had knowledge of it because carrying the body of a woman and cleaning up the flat is not one man’s job,” another police officer said. “Moreover, there was no missing complaint filed by Asif’s family about Sanya,” he added.
Sherali Nippani, the victim’s cousin, said since the lockdown was in force and travelling from Karnataka to Maharashtra was difficult, they could not come here earlier. But, whenever they called Asif up, he ignored the calls, which made them suspicious, she said.
“When we came to Mumbai last month and went to their house, we found that it was sold out and the family had moved to Mumbra. On reaching there [Mumbra] we were told by Asif and his mother that Sanya had eloped with her boyfriend, which was impossible. We then approached the police and lodged a missing person complaint,” Nippani said.
The police are now questioning Asif to find out where he disposed of the victim’s head and the murder weapon, and if someone else was involved in the crime.