Bird Watchers Fall Prey to Mumbai Murder Mystery
A group of bird watchers got more than they bargained for when they stumbled into their very own Bollywood mystery. Dr. Michael Oates was leading a team of colleagues on a bird watching expedition January 27th when a grisly discovery made him the focal point of a murder investigation with a Bollywood connection.
According to The Times of Asia, the 61 year-old British geologist was leading employees from the BG Group on the annual Mumbai Bird Race when they discovered a human skull in a marshy northern suburb.
“We had just got out of the car because we had spotted a cormorant and had walked up a service road to get a better look at it,” Oates told The Times. “At first I just walked right past it. Then my colleague, Neil, said, ‘look down there’ and there it was—a clean skull just sitting in an area where a lot of rubbish had been dumped.”
Police examined several items found around the skull, including hair extensions, clothes, and a chain, and identified them as belongings of Sandhya Singh, sister of silver screen heroines Sulakshana and Vijeta Pandit.
Singh has been missing since December. The remains are now being tested to verify the victim’s identify.
Family members fear Singh, who always wore a lot of jewelry, was the victim of a robbery. She was allegedly carrying her collection of gold jewelry worth about 2 million rupees ($37,000 dollars) to the bank when she disappeared.
Police may have a new lead thanks to cell phone records that revealed Singh had a lengthy conversation with Mumbai police officer Anil Behrani the day before her disappearance. He is currently being questioned.
Although the experience was harrowing, Dr. Oates expressed sympathy for Singh’s family: “Our over-riding feeling was sadness…that some poor family out there had lost a son or daughter and didn’t know whether they were still alive or dead.”