The children, Taufique Khan (4), his elder sister Aaliya (6) and cousin Afreen Khan (6), were last spotted on Saturday, playing in front of their house at around 2.30pm by Taufique’s mother. She had even chided the children, who studied in a local school, for strewing pebbles and stones on the road.
Taufique and his sister Aaliya often teamed up with their cousin Afreen, who stays in the vicinity with her father and her step-mother. The Khans, natives of Uttar Pradesh, had been staying in Nagpur as tenants and earned a livelihood as scrap dealers.
Bodies shifted to Mayo in the presence of forensic experts
The car registered with Jalgaon RTO, owned by someone at Dobi in Mominpura, was parked in Farooque Nagar by a mechanic of a garage owned by one Sohail. The car had been parked in front of a powerloom workshop for the last 10 days. The bodies of the three children were found after a woman cop raised an alarm on sensing a strong stench emanating from the parked car at around 6.20pm.
The cops, after scanning CCTV cameras across the city in vain, had realized there was a strong possibility of the missing children being in the neighbourhood, and hence had started searching houses in the area. The canine squad had visited the locality earlier in the day but failed to detect the stench. Workers of the powerloom workshop too had been disturbed by the strong stench, but assumed it was emanating from some dead and decaying animal. They said the car’s doors were left unlocked and children often played inside it.
Police feel the victims may have sneaked inside the car to play but could not step out after the doors somehow got locked from inside. CP Amitesh Kumar said special request has been made to the Regional Forensic Science laboratory, Regional Transport Office authorities, and autopsy teams to conduct post mortems immediately. “It’s too premature to comment on the real cause behind the deaths. Prima facie, it seems the deaths may be due to asphyxiation but we will await scientific confirmation,” said the CP, who had reached the spot to supervise the probe. Taufique’s family had approached Pachpaoli police station around 7.30pm on Saturday to file a missing complaint.
Around 200 cops were pressed into action for the last 24 hours after an offence of kidnapping was registered at Pachpaoli police station. The cops had to revise their plans after they could find no footage in private and command-and-control CCTVs of the children. Some local private CCTVs showed the children in the same neighbourhood. Kumar, who was present at the spot, ensured the bodies were shifted to Mayo Hospital in the presence of Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (RFSL) experts after examination of the bodies in the vehicle. He also ensured the bodies and their position in the car was videographed. The car was also inspected by a Motor Vehicle Inspector at the spot. “As of now, we will register a case of accidental death,” said the CP, who was accompanied by zonal DCP Gorakh Bhamre and DCP crime Mummaka Sudarshan.