The skull that geologist Michael John Oates stumbled upon at the marshlands near Delhi Public School (DPS) in Nerul (West) on Sunday now has an identity.
The police have identified the owner of the skull as Sandhya Singh, sister of renowned music-composer duo Jatin-Lalit and yesteryear actresses Vijayta Pandit and Sulakshana Pandit. The police have also salvaged a salwar kameez, a gold chain and a rudraksh near the skull, after digging at the spot. The family later identified these items as Sandhya's belongings.
Sandhya went missing on December 13, after she went to deposit her jewellery at a bank in Nerul. She used to stay with her husband, central excise commissioner Jayprakash Singh, in Vashi.
"Oates, who had come for the Mumbai Bird Race, returned from Karnala Bird Sanctuary and was bird watching at Palm Beach, when he found the skull," said SPI Suresh Vedak of NRI police station, Navi Mumbai.
"He took pictures of it and informed us. We immediately checked all the complaints for missing persons and informed the families of missing victims about the discovery of a skull," said Vedak.
The NRI police, with help from a team sent by the Kalina Forensic laboratory, dug up the spot and found a gold chain, a rudraksh bead, and a wig. "Firstly, a skull and seven bones were found at the spot. We showed these objects and also a salwar kameez to the family members and they have identified them as Sandhya's belongings. The family also identified the skull as Sandhya's by the presence of a tooth that was fitted with a cap," said Vedak.
The police will now send the remains to the anatomy department at J J Hospital and to the Kalina laboratory for further confirmation, and also to determine when she was killed. "The missing complaint was registered at Nerul police station, so we will transfer the case to them for further investigations," said Vedak.
Music composer Lalit said, "If the police would have taken our missing complaint seriously, they could have saved our sister, who is no more with us."
The police are suspecting that Sandhya was a victim of robbery, as she was in the habit of wearing heavy jewellery. On the day she went missing, she had on jewellery worth about Rs 20 lakh.
The Nerul police had declared a reward of Rs 50,000 to anyone who provided information about Sandhya's whereabouts.