Attackers set her afire to destroy evidence

Esther Anuhya, the 23-year-old software engineer from Machilipatnam, whose half-burnt body was found near a nala off the Eastern Express highway in Mumbai on Thursday night, was sexually assaulted by her killers before setting her ablaze, police said on Friday.

According to a preliminary post-mortem report, the victim was sexually abused before being killed. The attackers set her ablaze to destroy the evidence, sources said. Police suspect that the techie might have been gangraped.

“We are looking at the involvement of auto-rickshaw drivers. The victim might have hailed an auto to her home in the early hours on that fateful day. She might have been taken to a secluded place off the Eastern Express Highway in Bhandup where she was gangraped,” police sources said.

Since the body was burnt and decomposed, forensic evidence could not be collected from the crime spot. “We have rounded up local auto drivers who ferry passengers from LTT station,” a police official said. Police, however , ruled out robbery theory as the victim’s wrist watch, ring and a mobile phone had been recovered from the crime spot. But her laptop bag and backpack were missing.

Anuhya, who was working with TCS in Goregaon in western suburban Mumbai, had gone to Machilipatnam for Christmas and was returning on January 4. She went missing on January 5 morning. “On January 4 night, she spoke to her father Jonathan and told him that she had reached Solapur,” Arun Kumar, the victim’s relative, told The Hindu.