The Inside Story
MUMBAI: When the post-mortem report of an elderly woman's charred body showed that a metal rod had been inserted in her during a hip replacement surgery, it not only helped the police identify the victim but also trace her killer.

On Wednesday, the Chunabhatti police arrested Wahid Shaikh (35) for allegedly murdering his landlord, Hafizabi Khaton, to usurp her house.

On November 16, a few youths found a woman's body on a ground at Qureshi Nagar in Kurla (E) near the railway tracks. They informed a businessman in the locality who called the police. The cops were stumped. As they could not identify the charred body, they didn't know where to look for the killer.

But then they got their first lead: The post-mortem report showed that the victim had undergone a hip replacement surgery a few years ago. "The investigating team got in touch with the company that provided the steel rod, and through the firm got details of the doctor who had conducted the surgery. The doctor identified the victim as Hafizabi Khaton and gave us her address. Sion hospital's Dr Rajesh Dhere provided us the lead in identifying the victim," DCP (zone VI) Sangramsinh Nishandar told TOI.

A team, led by inspectors Balasaheb Jadhav and A Galinde, and sub-inspector A Bagade, found that Khaton was a ragpicker who lived alone in Kurla (E). "She had rented her other house in Kurla to Shaikh and his two friends. On Wednesday, when we questioned Shaikh, he broke down and confessed to the murder," said Nishandar. Cops are alooking for his two aides.

Shaikh reportedly told the police that he and his friends wanted to buy the house where they had been living as tenants, but Khaton refused. Shaikh then allegedly decided to kill her and own the property. "Shaikh thought he would not get caught as she does not have family. On November 7, on the pretext of discussing the matter, Shaikh called her home, strangled her to death with the help of his two accomplices and set her body on fire to destroy evidence," said a police officer. They then dumped the body on the ground.

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