How An IPS Officer Leveraged Scientific Investigation Methods to Solve a 5 Year Old Missing Person Case
- Ayodhya Prasad Singh
- Published on 24 Aug 2023, 4:26 pm IST
- 7 minutes read
- Additional SP of Korba, Robinson Guria, is the officer who cracked this case
- The missing person was Salma Sultana Lashkar, a news anchor, who had disappeared in 2018
- After 5 years, the case has been now solved and police have many evidences to produce in court to pin the culprits
In 2013, one of the best thrilling and suspenseful movies of India, ‘Drishyam’ was released and became blockbuster. The intriguing murder mystery was loved by audience and led to many remakes. In Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, this reel life case became a real life murder mystery, having much resemblance to the movie. A national highway was constructed at the place where the dead body was buried unknown to everyone except the murderer. But, an IPS officer’s determination and use of scientific methods of investigation led to finding the body, thereby solving of the 5-year-old case.
2020 batch IPS officer Robinson Guria applied modern scientific methods like ground penetration radar, historical satellite imaging and thermal mapping to dig out the missing person’s skeleton and arrest the culprit. He worked even 6 months on this case and cracked it.
Indian Masterminds spoke with the in-charge of this case – City SP Korba, Mr. Robinson Guria, to know the details of his successful cracking of the case.
A MISSING CASE
26 year old Salma Sultana Lashkar, a news anchor, was allegedly murdered by her live-in partner, Madhur Sahu, on 21st October, 2018. And now, after 5 years, the case has been solved and police have many evidences to produce in court to establish the motive behind the murder and also the involvement of the culprits.
This missing complaint was registered on Jan, 2019. Police did some routine work to find the missing person, and interestingly took the statement of the ‘murderer’ as well but found nothing suspicious. The inquiry went on for a while and was stopped.
HOW INVESTIGATION RESTARTED
In Feb 2023, Chhattisgarh Police started Operation Muskan to find missing women of the state with a human trafficking angle. In Korba district, IPS officer Robinson was looking after such cases. He found a case diary of Salma Sultana Lashkar and started working on it.
He said, “We studied case diaries and gave tips to the police team for further investigation. But I found anomalies in this case and kept working on it.”
Five years ago, gym trainer Madhur Sahu strangled Salma to death, and then buried her body along with two of his associates on the roadside near a single lane road in Kohadia in the city. Now, a highway has been built over that stretch of land. The Korba-Darri four-lane road was constructed by the Municipal Corporation last year.
HOW THE BODY WAS FOUND
On 22 August, the police team excavated a skeleton after an 11-hour operation using many modern technologies. It was found below the national highway in Korba city.
Satellite images, screening machines, thermal imaging and ground penetration radar machines were used for the excavation and recovery of the body.
Mr. Robinson said that six days ago, his team had arrested the 3 accused including the main culprit in this case. Acting on the statement of the accused, excavation was done with a JCB on Korba-Dari road. Hours later, a skeleton wrapped in a sheet was found. But, it was not an easy process to get till here.
During interrogation, a common fact was revealed by all three accused – of a tree at the murder site. That it was the last tree before a bridge. But now that the road has been built, there is no sign of any tree there. So, the police team took out maps of 2018 through Google Earth Pro. Forest guards were then interrogated and local villagers questioned.
Mr. Robinson said, “After getting maps of 2018, we were able to locate the tree they were talking about. Then, we luckily got a photo of 2017-18, where the tree was clearly visible. The photo was from a land survey that gave information about trees of the area in the data. After that, we asked PWD to locate the place where the tree once stood.”
PWD surveyed all the fixed points and located the area where the tree could have possibly stood. The accused had said that the body was buried a little ahead of the tree, in an area descending from a slope.
“So scanning was done with the GPR (Ground Penetration Radar). A graph was made based on the dielectric constant of the properties of the ground. Then we sent this machine to the local cemetery and did profiling to find out how calcium reacts if a body is there. And the same reaction was noticed in the spot where we suspected the body was buried. So, we were able to get to our target easily after that,” Mr. Robinson said.
Meanwhile, the police also obtained the thermal image of the satellite data. From this, it was known how much heat change had taken place in that area. Mr. Robinson explained that if there is some disturbance in the soil of an area, then its thermal property changes. So, on confirmation, digging was started in that particular area.
The officer further said, “Before 14 August, I was doing the whole investigation myself. After I produced enough evidences, then only a team was formed. We wanted to locate the exact location because digging up the highway would incur a heavy loss. So we made use of satellite image and ground penetration radar technology to find out the exact spot, where soil consolidation is poor because of the digging while burying the body. All this helped us ascertain that the body was in that 5-metre stretch.”
Not just the skeleton, even the victim’s slippers, hair and bangles have been recovered from the spot.
Back in 2018, Salma, who lived in SECL Colony, Kusmunda, met the main arrested accused, Madhur, who owned a gym and worked as a gym instructor. They fell in love and were in a live-in relationship, staying in a flat in a colony in Korba city. Suddenly, she went missing in 2018. Even when her father died on 20 January 2019, she did not visit home.
Her scooty was found at the station while her mobile was switched off. All attempts to contact her failed. After this, the family members feared something untoward and they lodged a missing person case in the police station. The family had raised suspicion on the gym operator Madhur Sahu, but he used to mislead the police. Transaction dispute and character doubt between the couple was the reason behind the murder.
Meanwhile, during investigation, police found out that Sultana had taken a loan from Union Bank. In this regard, when the police took information from the bank, it was found that the EMI of the loan was being paid on time.
Mr. Robinson said, “EMI was being paid till June 2019. While Salma was missing since October 2018. It was Sahu paying these EMIs, so that no suspicion arises. Then, when we intensified the investigation, he absconded. I also found out that he has cheated many persons in such ways. After that, I became sure about his involvement in the case.”
After this, the statements of Salma’s friends and acquaintances were also taken. Along with that, CDR analysis of 5 years back was also done. Then, on finding contradictions in the statements of 2 women and 3 men during the interrogation, the police took them into custody. And the murder mystery was solved after one of the most strict and dedicated investigation.
CDR analysis of 5 years ago revealed that on October 21 in 2018, Sahu fought with Salma and called up his friend Kaushal Shrivas. Sahu strangled her with a stole and Kaushal helped him. Sahu then called up his second friend Atul Sharma, who helped them to bury the body. As per police sources, the couple suspected each other’s character and had monetary issues.
No one knew where Salma was for many years. So, Madhur Sahu had become over-confident. Five years passed by, and then the investigation by Mr. Robinson solved this case. He said, “We did the investigation with all the scientific investigation methods that were available to us.”
END OF THE ARTICLE