September 7, 2020 3:04:20 am
The Porbandar police invoked sections 364 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Lakhman Odedra, the forest guard who was arrested for allegedly murdering his fellow guard Hetal Rathod, her husband Kirti Rathod and a daily-wager Nagajan Agath, after postmortem of the female guard established that she was six to seven months pregnant and that the accused had abducted her with intention to kill her.
“The postmortem has concluded that Hetal Rathod was six-to-seven months pregnant. Therefore, we have added IPC Section 316 (causing death of quick unborn child by act amounting to culpable homicide). Similarly, the accused had lured the victims in the name of raiding a brewery of illicit liquor. Therefore, IPC Section 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) has also been added in the case. Honourable court has approved the addition of both these sections against the accused in this case,” Smit Gohil, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) of Porbandar (rural) division said on Sunday.
Gohil is the investigating officer (IO) of the case.
Hetal (30), her husband Kirti (32) and Agath were found dead in a stream near Sarmanivav Nes area in Godhan beat of Bhanvad range in Barda Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17. They were reported missing since the evening of August 15 after going inside the forest with Odedra allegedly to raid an illegal brewery of country liquor in that forest area. The trio had set out for the forest after Odedra tipped Agath off saying an illegal brewery was there in Godhana, the forest beat assigned to Hetal.
According to police, once inside the forest, Odedra (32) clubbed the trio to death one after another with the help of a stick. Police said that Odedra, who is also beat guard of Visavada beat in Bhanvad range, had soft feelings for the forest guard, but murdered Hetal after the latter quarrelled with his wife Manju in late July.
“We have sent samples of the foetus to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Gandhinagar for DNA testing and thereby ascertain its paternity. Reports of the testing are awaited,” the DySP said.
Police had formally arrested Odedra on August 20 and a local court had sent him to police custody till August 28. “During his remand, we reconstructed the sequence of events leading up to the triple murder. We also recovered the gediyu (a bamboo stick with roots knob) the accused had used to club the three to death, from near his home,” Gohil further said.
Odedra has since been suspended from service by the forest department, said Dipak Pandya, in-charge deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Porbandar.
Police said that Agath was sort of a collateral damage. “Though Hetal and Odedra were colleagues, they were not talking to each other on phone. In order to abduct her, Odedra dialled Agath saying there was an illegal brewery in Hetal’s beat. The daily-wager informed Hetal about Odedra’s input. While Hetal and her husband were his primary targets, the accused didn’t want there to be any eye-witnesses to his crime and therefore murdered Agath,” the DySP said.
Kirti was a teacher at government primary school in Ratdi, a village near Visavada village.
“We are recording statements of some other peoples who had seen the four together and investigating if anyone else is involved in the murders,” the IO said, adding “Manju, in her statements, has claimed that she doesn’t know anything about her husband’s conspiracy to kill Hetal.”
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