The year 2021 has begun on an extremely sad note for the Kukrejas who woke up to the news of the brutal killing of their 19-year-old daughter Jhanvi Kukreja on January 1 (Friday). The teenager was found murdered in cold blood on the ground floor of a residential building on 15th Road in Khar in the early hours of Friday. Jhanvi, a resident of Mumbai and a psychology student from Jai Hind College was allegedly pushed from the 15th floor of a building named Bhagwati Heights in suburban Khar where she had gone to attend a New Year’s Eve party.
Jhanvi had attended the party with two of her best friends- Shree Jodhankar (24) and Diya Padankar (19) who are the prime accused in the case. It is believed that a heated exchange of argument between the trio had led to Jhanvi’s brutal killing.
The mother of Jhanvi Kukreja refutes ‘love triangle’ claim
Jhanvi’s mother, Nidhi Kukreja claimed that Jhanvi had seen Shree and Diya in a compromising position at the party, following which an argument broke out between them. The claims say the argument turned into a physical fight in which Jhanvi was killed.
Nidhi refuted rumours that there was any ‘love triangle’ between Jhanvi and the accused Shree Jogdhankar and Diya Padankar. She said that the accused were her friends. “Shree and Jhanvi were not dating. They were very good friends and Shree had visited our house a couple of times as well. All the three kids, Diya, Shree and Jahnvi, had a very good relationship as friends,” Jahnvi’s mother said.
Diya was like a daughter to me: Nidhi Kukreja
Jhanvi’s mother furthered that Diya was like a daughter to her. “Diya is our immediate neighbour and she was like a daughter to me. Diya used to be at our house almost every day, eating, drinking, sleeping… just like my own daughter,” said Nidhi. However, she said that Diya’s parents have not spoken to her since the incident.
“We are immediate neighbours but Diya’s parents have not spoken or reached out to us yet,” she said.
Injuries incurred by Jhanvi Kukreja were homicidal and not accidental
As per the autopsy report, skull fracture was said to be the cause of her death. Reports also suggest that Jhanvi’s injuries were homicidal and not accidental. It is revealed that the deceased was brutally beaten approximately around 2.30 am. Her body showed injury marks on the hip and thighs. “These injuries indicate that Kukreja was badly beaten with an intention of killing her,” said an officer from Khar police station in Mumbai. As per reports, it was around 6 am that the murder was discovered.
The Khar police, investigating the case, arrested Shree Jodhankar and Diya Padankar on January 2 (Saturday). They have been charged under section 302 (murder) and 323 (assault) of the IPC. According to reports, Shree fractured his ribs and suffered injuries on his hands. He is currently admitted to the hospital. Once discharged, cops will take him under custody. Police are yet to figure out how Shree suffered injuries, however, they opined that Shree might have also had a fall during the scuffle.
Forensic experts to recreate the crime scene
Khar Police are most likely to ask for extended custody of the two youths arrested. Police claim that the prime accused, Shree Jogdhankarwho had mysteriously sustained injuries during the incident, had been at the hospital for treatment, due to which police couldn’t interrogate him. While Diya has started slowly revealing what had happened that night, police said that her statements are not reliable as she was withholding information for the first two days.
The Khar Police have been recording detailed statements of all the party attendees to ascertain the sequence of events of that fateful night. It has been reported that the forensic experts would be recreating the scene to probe all angles in the case. Since there are no direct eyewitnesses, the cops will mainly focus on circumstantial evidence to nail Jhanvi’s killers.
Jhanvi’s phone call records reveal that shortly before her murder, she had called up two of her friends and told one of them that she feared Padalkar planned to “do something to herself”. She had been allegedly sobbing while speaking to this friend of hers. Police said that they will be recording the statement of the friend she spoke to.
Parents request Mumbai police to fast-track the investigation
Meanwhile, parents of the deceased teenager met the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on January 5 (Tuesday) morning, requesting him to fast-track the investigation and bring justice to their daughter.
“The friends took my daughter for a party and they did not even have the decency to call and tell us about what happened. I got a call at 5 am while my daughter had died at 2.15 am. She was lying in a pool of blood but nobody came to her rescue. She could have been saved had someone taken her to the hospital,” said Nidhi Kukreja, Jhanvi’s mother.
Weeping outside the Khar police station, Nidhi stated: “My daughter had such a bright future. She was planning to study abroad. Now she is no more, just hours after celebrating her father’s birthday.”
She added that she has full faith in the law and judicial system, and believes they will help provide her daughter with justice.
The timeline of the case:
On December 31 (Thursday), Diya and Shree and Jhanvi were at Diya’s house for a party. As it was Jhanvi’s father Prakash Kukreja’s birthday as well, they went over to Jhanvi’s house to celebrate it. Later, Diya requested Jhanvi’s parents to let her go to another party. She told them they will come back in a few hours. Jhanvi’s parents initially did not want to let Jhanvi go but on Diya’s insistence, they allowed her.
Jhanvi Kukreja, Jodhankar and Padankar left to attend the New Year’s Eve terrace party at Bhagwati Heights in Khar. They were among 10 people who attended the party. At around 11.30 pm the trio reached Bhagwanti Heights apartment, which is a 14-storey building. The party was hosted by their friend Yash Ahuja, who lives on the second floor of the same building.
According to Police officials, the murder happened anytime between 1.30 am and 2 am.
It was not until 6 am that the murder was discovered. Officers at the crime scene said that a woman from the building was walking her dog when she saw blood dripping from the staircase. “By this time, the party was still going on and the murder went unnoticed as people used the lift and not use the stairs to go up and down the building,” said the officer.
When the police reached the rooftop, they found alcohol bottles and people in the party inebriated.
Jhanvi Kukreja was taken to Baba hospital and she had died before her parents could reach the hospital.
The organiser of the party revealed that Jodhankar and Padankar fought with Jhanvi. Police suspect that the fight may have been caused by Jhanvi accusing Jodhankar of cheating on her with Padankar. The fight turned violent with Jodhankar and Padankar hitting Jhanvi. At 2.30 am, Janhvi left the rooftop after a heated argument with her alleged boyfriend and the girl he was making out with.
However, after allegedly killing her, Jodhankar and Padankar returned to the party, which led the others attending the party to think that Jhanvi had gone home. Divya Padankar also had dinner and went off to sleep at the host’s house. Surprisingly, her body language did not for a second suggest that she had committed such a heinous crime.
According to the investigations, Jhanvi was allegedly brutally assaulted by the accused Shree and from the 5th floor, the fight reached the second floor. Here Jhanvi’s head was banged on the railing of the staircase. The cops suspect the accused might have dragged Jhanvi to the ground floor or thrown her from the second floor to the ground floor.
Police also said that there were bloodstains on the staircase and experts have collected samples to ascertain which bloodstain is whose as all three youths were bleeding.
While the circumstantial evidence points that Jhanvi was assaulted on the second floor, the evidence like Jhanvi’s one footwear was found on the fifth floor and the other on the ground floor, suggest that the teenager was manhandled on the fifth floor as well. Moreover, Jhanvi’s earring was found lying on the fifth floor, that also suggests that there was a struggle that had ensued between Jhanvi and the two accused on the fifth floor itself.
The cops said all the people in the party had consumed alcohol. The cops also suspect some may have taken drugs too but are awaiting blood reports.
The distraught mother of the deceased claimed that the incident took place at 1:40 am on Thursday and she was only informed about it at 5 am. Parents of another person present at the party informed the victim’s family as Jhanvi’s mother said that most people had fled the crime scene. The mother said that her daughter’s life could have been saved had anyone informed her about the incident.