Investigation into the death of 11-year-old girl, whose body was recovered in Surat, Ahmadabad, India, on April 6, revealed Friday that one of the suspects had bought both the victim and her mother to work as bonded laborers for him in the past.

Police in Surat claimed that on March 15, Harsayai Gurjar, 35, a labor contractor in marble units, bought the victim and her widowed mother from Gangapur in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, for 35,000 INR ($528).

Gurjar allegedly started raping the mother and the child, both of whom were kept locked up in his three-storey house in Surat. When the mother went missing on March 20, Gurjar kept on sexually abusing the 11-year-old girl, the police claimed.

“For several days, Harsayai raped and tortured the girl. On April 5, he strangulated her to death as it was getting difficult to confine her anymore,” Deepan Bhadran, deputy commissioner of police in Ahmadabad crime branch, said, daily newspaper the Times of India reported.

Kiran Chaudhary, inspector, crime branch added: “On April 5, Harsayai took put body in the car and dumped it in the bushes on the Jiav-Budiya Road around 1.5km-2km from his house. When he returned home, Naresh (Harsayai’s brother who works for him) questioned him. Harsayai told him that he had killed the girl and threatened to kill him also if he revealed anything.”

Surat Rape Case
Indian police officials escort Harsayai Gurjar (C), accused in the rape and murder of an unidentified 11-year-old girl in Surat, following his arrest in Ahmadabad, April 21, 2018. Getty Images/ SAM PANTHAKY

On Friday, the police arrested Gurjar and three of his brothers — Harisinh, Naresh and Amarsinh. Pradipsinh Jadeja, junior home minister of Gujarat, told reporters: “From CCTV footages, police seized the car, traced its owner and reached Harisinh, who said his brother could be behind the crime. Harsayai was arrested from Gangapur on Friday.”

The minor victim’s body had 87 injury marks, including those around her vaginal area, which looked like they were inflicted by a sticklike object. The gruesome details of the rape case have outraged the people in India. Over 400 personnel of Surat police and Ahmedabad Crime Branch worked on the case after Gujarat police failed to make any headway in either establishing the identity of the girl or get any leads on the culprits.

Meanwhile, Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said they might have gotten a major lead in cracking the identity of the victim after police released two of her photos.

"A man from Andhra Pradesh today approached us along with some of his family members, claiming that the girl whose body was found on April 6 was his daughter. He said she had gone missing in October last year," Sharma said, Zee News reported.

"The man said his claim is based on the fact that the photo of his missing daughter matched with that of the victim. He also furnished an Aadhaar card of his missing daughter. We are not yet certain that the victim is his daughter. Therefore, we will match their DNA samples to verify the claim," Sharma said.

This would bring into question the identity of a woman, whose decomposing body was found near the crime spot by the police on April 10. For now, the police believe the woman was the victim’s mother who went missing.