Mumbai/Thane, June 9
In a fresh twist to the alleged murder of a woman in Thane district, the police on Friday said the man charged with her killing had in fact married the victim, and they were not live-in partners as believed earlier, and he has claimed she committed suicide.
Manoj Sane (56), arrested for allegedly murdering his 'live-in partner' Saraswati Vaidya, was in fact married to her but the couple had concealed this fact, the police said, two days after the 36-year-old woman's body parts were found pressure-cooked and roasted inside the flat where they resided in the Mira Road area of the bustling district adjoining Mumbai.
Sane, who worked at a ration shop, has now claimed Vaidya committed suicide by drinking poison and he only tried to dispose of her body by chopping it up, officials said.
The accused, arrested on Thursday, also allegedly told the interrogators he was HIV-positive and never had any physical relationship with Vaidya.
"The couple did not register their marriage, but they had married by performing rituals in a temple," said Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayant Bajbale of Mira-Bhayandar, Vasai Virar commissionerate, citing the statements given by three sisters of the deceased.
Vaidya had informed her sisters about the marriage, but since there was a considerable age gap between them, the couple did not make their wedding public, he said.
The remains of the woman will be handed over to her sisters for last rites as per their wish once DNA testing and other formalities are over, the official added.
The motive behind the crime was still not clear.
An FIR has been registered against Sane under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence) at the Naya Nagar police station.
Vaidya's mother had died when the sisters were very young while their father had abandoned them, DCP Bajbale said.
The victim studied up to Class 10 at an 'ashram' school (school for orphans) in Ahmednagar district of western Maharashtra and came to Mumbai to reside with her relatives after turning 18, he said.
After the couple met, Sane had arranged a job of salesperson for her, he said.
Sane, who is in police custody till June 16, told interrogators Vaidya died on the morning of June 3 after consuming poison with foam coming out of her mouth, and fearing he would be held responsible for her death, he decided to dispose of the body.
He also claimed after disposing of the body pieces he had planned to commit suicide, police officials said.
Police were yet to verify these claims, they said, adding it was possible that the accused was trying to mislead the investigators.
Gory details emerged after the woman's death. On Wednesday (June 7), the police found Vaidya's body parts, some cooked in pressure cooker and even roasted, inside the rented flat of the couple who were staying there since the last three years.
Sane kept the woman's chopped body parts in three buckets in their flat and tried to suppress the stench by spraying room freshener, his neighbours said on Thursday.
The crime came to light after neighbours alerted the police about a foul smell coming out of the flat.
According to the FIR registered by the police, Sane not only boiled body pieces in a pressure cooker and an utensil after cutting them with a saw, but also roasted them and put them in a bucket and tub.
It is suspected Vaidya died on June 4, but the case came to light on June 7.
Neighbours also told the police Sane had been feeding stray dogs for the past few days, something he had never done before.
Amid Sane's interrogation, the police traced Vaidya's family members and her three sisters recorded their statements with the police on Friday.
The shocking details that emerged in the crime evoked the memories of the last year's Shraddha Walkar case.
Walkar, a call centre employee, was strangled to death allegedly by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala on May 18 last year. The accused sawed her body into several pieces, which he kept in a refrigerator for almost three weeks at his residence in south Delhi's Mehrauli.
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