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The Inside Story
TCS employee's murder causes panic among Chennai women IT professionals

Save Tamils movement mostly consists of IT guys, organised a protest on Monday in which around 500 IT professionals participated.

Uma Maheswari, 23-year-old software professional from the Salem city was working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in SIPCOT park at Siruseri near Chennai. She had not returned to her residence in Medavakkam where she was staying with other girls. The next day Uma Maheshwari's father lodged a complaint in the local police station. 9 days later her body was found amidst a bush some 200 metres away from TCS, the company she was working with.

The state government had ordered for CB-CID enquiry. The local police had handed over the case to CB-CID.

From Monday morning CB-CID policemen were searching for evidences in the area where she her body was found. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for surveillance is being used in the area to trace any evidence. The police cannot rule out sexual violence in the case, even the motive behind the murder cannot be confirmed.

As the body was decomposed it was difficult to identify the symptoms for rape or sexual violence before she was stabbed to death and hence samples from the body have been sent for a laboratory test for confirmation, sources said. A cash reward of Rs 2 lakh was announced for any useful information which can help for further investigation.

While talking to Inda Today Online, one of the women IT professionals from reputed software company in Siruseri told "Our company provides cab facility after 8 pm. If something happens like this, we all get an alert email from HR that women should be careful and should not go in night. But during deadlines there is no other go for us except working for long hours and go in midnight."

Some women techies say, "We are staying nearby the company in a residential area. For this small distance, we cannot ask for a cab and we go by two wheeler alone. But the area is dark which creates fear. Without street lights, this fear has increased after the murder".Women are accompanied with somebody from their family or neighbour for the past two days after the news.

TCS is tight lipped over the issue after CB-CID inquiry order and they show hands towards Mumbai head quarters for any response.

Save Tamils movement mostly consists of IT guys, organised a protest on 24 February, on Monday in which around 500 IT professionals participated. At SIPCOT gate of Siruseri, the demonstration took place to urge the police and government to punish the culprits and to demand a secure space for women.

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CHENNAI: A day after cracking the TCS employee murder case, police have nabbed the prime accused who was on the run. Uma Maheshwari, 23, was found dead on February 22, nine days after she went missing on her way from work in Siruseri.

A joint team of CB-CID and Kancheepuram police arrested Ujjal Mandal on Wednesday from a train near Kolkata. He will soon be brought to the city. On Tuesday, police had shown the arrest of two other accused, Uttam Mandal, 24, and Ram Mandal, 21, of Malda district in West Bengal. Based on their confession, police went in search of Ujjal Mandal.

Aware that he had boarded a train to Howrah, the police team flew to Kolkata along with a worker from Chennai to identify Mandal. The team got into the train at Kharagpur railway station and began scouring every compartment. Finally, the worker from Chennai identified the suspect.

CB-CID director general of police Narinder Pal Singh said the suspect had been produced before a local magistrate court in Kolkata and a transit warrant secured. "He will be brought here on Thursday."

A police officer said Ujjal was the prime accused. "He dragged Uma Maheswari into some bushes where the three men sexually assaulted her before stabbing her to death," he said.

In their confession, the accused said they were drinking when they saw Uma walking down the road and that they first intended to rob her.

Uttam Mandal, before his arrest, had tried to use Uma's credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM kiosk at Siruseri but failed as he didn't know the PIN, inspector general of police (CB-CID) Mahesh Kumar Agarwal said on Tuesday night. The accused later bought clothes at a textile shop with the credit card and their images were captured by a CCTV camera at the shop, he said.

UAV helped police get crucial clues

Using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was probably the smartest thing CB-CID did while investigating the murder of TCS employee Uma Maheswari. This gave them a clear picture of how the gang may have accosted and killed the woman before escaping.

Based on visual inputs, investigators moved in different directions from the crime scene and combed the area for clues. One policeman found entangled in a thorny bush a red thread which later turned out to be from the shirt of an accused. Another team reached an ATM from where they got a CCTV grab that proved that one of the culprits had tried to draw money using a credit card stolen from the girl.

"The red thread helped us confirm the presence of one of the accused when the rape and murder occurred. The footage of a person who was trying to use a card after masking his face with a handkerchief raised further suspicion. He was wearing a red shirt and his physique led us to the conclusion that he may have been a manual labourer," said a police officer.

This was the first time a UAV was used for crime investigation in the state. "The place of crime was full of bushes. There were vast stretches of open land which made it difficult from the ground to speculate which way the killers might have gone. But once we got a bird's eye view, thanks to the UAV, we got a better picture based on the clearings and the bushes," said an officer.

It was while tracing one of the probable escape routes that the investigating team found the red thread. Police started inquiring about workers hired for construction in the nearby area. The arrested three were found to have been employed as construction workers at a floor tile manufacturing firm. They were working on a new tower block and an annexure being built for TCS where Maheswari was working.

With inputs from workers and the method of deduction, they narrowed down on a handful of labourers in the area. Soon, the CCTV grab from an ATM helped identify one of the accused. It turned out that Uttham Mandal, one of the accused, rushed to an ATM hardly an hour after Maheswari was accosted. According to police, the woman was attacked around 10.20pm on February 13. The CCTV footage showed Uttham Mandal the the ATM at 11.26pm.

After interrogating the accused, police said Maheswari was listening to music on her phone using ear phones when the accused pounced on her. They stole her ear studs, mobile phone, credit card and some cash from her bag. Police personnel produced the arrested before a magistrate court in Chengalpet which remanded them in police custody till March 4.

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