Four petty thieves held for sensational Goa murders


Panaji: The Goa police Thursday arrested four petty thieves for allegedly murdering four people and dumping their bodies into a creek running through Panaji.

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The dead included a 67-year-old man who has been identified as Baburao Solanke from Pune, Sunita Shetye (35) from Sawantwadi, Nagesh Shetye (7) and Dipali Shetye (4).

The accused arrested Thursday have been identified as Babu Reddy (28), Pritesh Karmalkar (19), Videsh Karmalkar (21) and Suresh Keshavkar (19), all whom are employed as fishermen on trawlers, which go deep-sea fishing.

Addressing a press conference at the police headquarters in Panaji Thursday, Deputy Inspector General R.S. Yadav said the four had been arrested earlier for petty theft.

“We suspect that on the night of the murders, they had come with the intention of stealing scrap metal at the unused shed where the four persons were staying,” Yadav said.

Yadav did not rule out rape as a motive for the murder. “We will be able to figure that out only after a forensic examination,” he said, adding that efforts were being made to track down two more persons who were suspected to be involved in the crime. The four have been booked under the Indian Penal Code.

Yadav said the accused had killed the four victims by inflicting head injuries with a heavy object and then dumped their bodies into the river.

The bodies were found floating in the Rua de Ourem creek, which runs through the heart of the city. Until Wednesday, the police had maintained that the four had in all likelihood committed suicide.

The arrests account for four of the eight murders which occurred in Goa from Oct 12 to 14.

Yadav could not throw light on the progress made in the investigations into the four other unsolved murders. In three cases, the killer had burnt the faces of the female victims in order to conceal their identity. In the fourth case, the victim’s head was smashed beyond recognition using a heavy object.

“Investigations are in progress. There are some leads we are working on,” he said, not ruling out the possibility of a serial killer behind the murders.

Crimes against women in Goa have hit the media spotlight in recent years. Murder victims have included British teenager Scarlett Keeling (2008) and the mysterious death of Russian teenager Elena Sukhonova a few months ago.

Earlier this year, alleged serial killer Mahanand Naik, who has confessed to strangling 16 women with their own dupattas over 10 years, was arrested.

Yadav also said there is “absolutely no connection whatsoever” between Mahanand Naik and the present spate of murders.

Hitting out at the national media, he said: “The national media is linking Mahanand Naik to this case, which is wrong. Mahanand has nothing to do with these murders. We want to clarify this,” Yadav said.

Mahanand Naik (41), an out of work rickshaw driver from the temple town of Phonda, in central Goa, was arrested in April this year for killing 16 women over a period of 10 years.

Mahanand’s murder rampage was also elaborately reported in the local media.