MUMBAI: Police investigations in the murder case of teenager Jhanvi Kukreja at a New Year’s Eve party in Khar have revealed that Diya Padalkar, one of the two accused, had gone over to the host’s house after the incident, but did not mention a word about the incident to anyone. Padalkar had dinner at the home of host, Yash Ahuja, and went off to sleep. Later, Ahuja realised she was bleeding from the lip and helped her wash up. Padalkar then called up her father who took her to Hinduja Hospital. It was only later that one of the residents spotted Kukreja’s body on the ground floor and informed the Ahujas who summoned the police, senior officers said.
Residents said the terrace party at Bhagwati Heights building had bright lights and loud music. “Kukreja and Padalkar had arrived around 8.30pm. But they went back home and returned past midnight with Shree Jogdhankar (co-accused),” a senior officer said. Most of the guests were drinking. As the party progressed, Kukreja, Padalkar and Jogdhankar occupied a separate side of the terrace with one more girl. “This girl started to throw up and Padalkar escorted her downstairs. When Padalkar returned, Jogdhankar tried to cozy up with her. This infuriated Kukreja who was close to Jogdhankar and she started yelling. Padalkar reportedly slapped her and walked off in a huff, with Jogdhankar following her. Concerned that Padalkar, who was her friend of 13 years, would take some drastic step, Kukreja followed them,” said an officer.
Police believe a scuffle broke out on the fifth floor as one of Kukreja’s footwear and earring was found there. On the second floor, police found blood as well as clumps of the victim’s hair. “The staircase was dimly lit and there were no cameras. But doctors have opined Kukreja’s injuries are homicidal and not accidental. We suspect Jogdhankar banged Kukreja’s head. Jogdhankar has fractured his hand as well and we will consult medical experts to find out how. Our theory is he could have had a fall during the scuffle,” said an officer.
Forensic experts have collected blood samples from the crime scene and will match it with those of the accused and the victim. “Padalkar has started talking to investigators, but we need to corroborate her statements with those of Jogdhankar. We are waiting for his discharge from hospital,” said an officer.
Meanwhile, Padalkar, a first-year Liberal Arts student, had her first semester exams from January 2, a day after the incident. But due to her arrest, she could not appear for any papers.