CCTVs, CDRs, gloves lead to arrest of hate crime accused

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Analysis of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras from seven jurisdictions and 1.20 lakh call detail records (CDRs) led the Vakola police to a 23-year-old salesman, who had allegedly spat at a Manipuri woman in Santacruz earlier this month during the wave of racist sentiment in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On April 6, the accused allegedly spat at the victim near Geeta Vihar in Vakola and sped away on his scooter. The Vakola police then registered a case against unidentified persons and two special teams were formed to investigate the case.

An officer, who was part of the investigating team, said, “We spotted the accused on the CCTV camera at the spot where the incident occurred. We then traced his movements backwards up to Goregaon and forward till Kurla by going through hundreds of cameras, government and private, installed in the jurisdictions of seven police stations. However, we only had a face and no name, after which we once again viewed the entire footage for clues.”

Repeated viewing

During the second viewing, the police realised that the accused was riding his scooter with one hand while passing through Air India Colony in Vakola, while his other hand was near his face for a considerable time. “Repeated viewing of that particular bit of footage convinced us that he was talking on his cell phone at that point. Accordingly, we obtained CDRs of all numbers that had passed through cellular network towers covering that area,” another officer said.

Tedious investigation

Using a tedious and lengthy process called dump data analysis, the police checked the credentials of over 1.20 lakh cell phone numbers that had been active while passing through the particular tower and zeroed in on 50 possible suspects.

These 50 were once again scrutinised closely and the police ultimately zeroed in on Amir Ilias Khan, a resident of Kurla.

An officer with the Vakola police said, “We had already observed that he was wearing hand gloves in the footage, which led us to suspect that he worked in a profession that required him to be in contact with a large number of people. The fact that he worked as a salesman further pointed the needle of suspicion at him. After prolonged questioning, he finally confessed to the offence. We arrested him on Friday.”

Mr. Khan has been charged with committing malignant acts likely to spread infection of a dangerous disease and assault or use of criminal force under the Indian Penal Code.

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