Jeans and watch: clues to the murder

The murdered woman Pooja Singh De. (Photo credit: Instagram)

The Bengaluru police tried every trick in the book to solve the gruesome murder of model-cum-event manager Pooja Singh De, but achieved no major breakthrough for over a fortnight.

When the seemingly mysterious case was turning out to be a riddle, the police got a whiff of a clue in the form of a branded jeans (Jealous 21) and a Titan designer watch that Pooja was wearing, and a tattoo ‘S’ on her body. 

Tracing the bar code of the jeans and the unique number of the wrist watch, the police began collecting transaction details of probable customers in major shopping malls across the country and online shopping sites.

B Ramamurthy, Inspector, Bagaluru Police Station, said, “The woman appeared to be of North Indian origin and had features of Bengali women. While one team was busy scouting details through shopping platforms, another team headed to Delhi and Kolkata.” When police were assuming her to be a bar dancer or a victim of trafficking, the probe teams reached Kolkata. 

Husband gifted watch

The police discovered that 380 people across India had bought the same series of wristwatch between 2013 and 2019. Similarly, the jeans brand was bought by 180 people in Bengaluru. Zeroing in on the family of Pooja, the police literally reached out to every purchaser of the watch and discovered that it was bought by Kolkata-based Soudeep De, Pooja’s husband. Soudeep had gifted it to her on their first anniversary.

“Going through the missing-person complaints, we came across one filed with the New Town police station in Kolkata around the same time. Though there was no formal FIR, the station diary had details of the complaint. The family was summoned and shown her photographs and belongings. While they identified her belongings, the photo of her bludgeoned body was identified by her tattoo,” an officer who was part of the investigating team told DH

“By then, going by legal norms, we had cremated the body after collecting DNA samples. With the help of Pooja’s family, we went through her call records. Her e-mail account revealed that she had availed the services of Ola for travelling within Bengaluru,” Dr Bhimashankar Guled, DCP, North-East, said. 

The police picked up cab driver H M Nagesh (22) on mere suspicion. He later confessed to the crime and gave out chilling details of the brutal murder. 

Cabbie a dropout

A college dropout, Nagesh was whiling away time with rowdy elements in Hegganahalli limits off Magadi Road. Tired of his wayward behaviour, his family bought him a cab so that he could earn his livelihood. 

Irregular at work, Nagesh was unable to pay monthly EMIs and was served a notice by the bank.

Pooja had hired Nagesh through Ola and travelled around Bengaluru for her work. She used the same cab to reach the airport in the wee hours of July 31. 

Caught in debt, Nagesh demanded extra money from Pooja en route to the airport. When she refused, he took a diversion at Chikkajala and drove on the Shettigere road. He hit her with a metal rod after which she fell unconscious.

“He got only Rs 500 and two mobile phones from her baggage,” police said.  

As he was about to dump her on a deserted stretch, Pooja regained consciousness and put up a struggle. Still bleeding, she began running towards the airport compound. Nagesh stabbed her multiple times after which she collapsed on the ground. After smashing her head with a brick, he fled from the spot. Until his arrest on August 21, he did not take out his car and remained at home. 

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