Dilip Kumar

Bhubaneswar: The most challenging task before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) after it was given the charge of conducting a belated probe into the case was to recreate the trail of the suspect which had been erased with the passage of time.

SIT chief Arun Bothra said, to begin with, the team had to revisit the evidence which was collected by the Nayagarh police soon after the crime came to notice and carry out checks on the suspects who had been picked up for questioning then. Moreover, they had to find a palpable motive behind the crime which will help identify the suspect during the fresh probe.

The move paid off. While most of the suspects at Jadupur village volunteered to undergo polygraph tests, Saroj  Sethi was reluctant initially.

The SIT had smelt the rat by then and Sethi was coaxed to face the test. The results were encouraging. The test revealed that Sethi’s answers were deceptive, Bothra said.

Bolstered by the findings, the SIT now narrowed down on Sethi and lay hands on some vitals clues ferreted out from his mobile phone. “When we unlocked Sethi’s mobile phone, we received a pop-up notification regarding a news alert on the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh,” Bothra said. Afterwards, the SIT learnt that Sethi had gone through the said article in the run up to the rape (and murder) of the girl.

The clincher was Sethi’s unusual aggression and attempts to derail the probe. “ He would behave aggressively each time we threw questions at him pertaining to the girl’s murder or rape," Bothra said.

Meanwhile, another set of SIT sleuths had prepared the profile of almost all residents in the village and surutinised those. “Later, we learnt that on July 14, Sethi was the only person in the village who was alone at home,” he said.

The SIT’s Efforts In Collecting Evidence

Though the probe team has not yet come across any eye witness during the probe so far, it has tried to gather and rely on scientific evidence to nail Sethi.

"There has been no eye witness in the case so far. But we are working on to gather scientific evidence,” Bothra said.

The SIT is in touch with the authorities at the Hyderabad-based CCMB (Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) and NIPGR (National Institute of Plant Genome Research), Delhi to boost scientific and forensic evidence. “We have plans to send the branch of a tree found from the house of the accused to these institutes for plant DNA test", Bothra said.

He further informed that the accused had confessed to the crime before two persons. “Fortunately for us one of them had kept his video and audio on. So, the confession of the accused has been recorded by a policeman (one of the two witnesses). That video is also available with the team which could emerge as a vital evidence to link Sethi with the crime,” Bothra said while refusing to reveal the identity of the witness/es. “We will produce the video in the court during trial,” he added.