Ahmedabad (Gujarat), November 14: It took a massive manhunt to zero in on a serial paedophile who allegedly raped three girls aged between three and seven years and killed one of them in Gandhinagar district in Gujarat during the festival time of Diwali, the main festival of the Hindus. He even allegedly indulged in necrophilia on the girl he killed.

The suspect Vijay Thakor (26) was arrested by Gandhinagar's Local Crime Branch on Monday, just three days after he allegedly committed his last crime, the rape of a three-year-old girl on the Hindu New Year on November 5. He killed and then raped her.

On Diwali day, November 4 Vijay allegedly picked up a five-year-old girl from near Rancharda village who he raped and then left in a secluded spot. The next day, Vijay had the audacity of picking up the three-year-old girl from near her family when she was sleeping. Even on October 26, he had raped another girl, an eight-year-old girl but it was not reported at that time.

Gandhinagar Superintendent of Police Mayur Chavda said that on interrogation Vijay revealed yet another crime. He had even tried to abduct a small girl but when he tried to pick up the sleeping girl, her mother woke up so he hit her with a wooden stump and injured the mother but was unable to get the girl. The mother of the girl didn't come forward to a complaint at that time but after the police approached her the woman narrated the incident. She is still recuperating from the injury but her daughter is safe.

However, that is not the case with the two other girls who are still recuperating after being brutalised by Vijay. SP Chavda said, "Vijay was so violent with the girls that one five-year-old is in the hospital and the seven-year-old is so traumatised that she is not speaking to anyone. We have round the clock women constables with her. Vijay even confessed to killing the three-year-old girl he picked up when she was sleeping with her family. He raped her after killing her."

The three-year-old child was screaming too much so Vijay allegedly killed her but performed necrophilia on her later. Vijay is married and has a six-year-old daughter. A resident of Vansjada village, a small village of 3500 residents in Santej Police Station arear in Kalol block of Gandhinagar district. He is a machine operator in a factory. Vijay's wife Savita Thakor is in the advanced stages of pregnancy with their second child.

Police are not sure what could have been the trigger for the spade of rapes that the accused indulged in, in such a short period but it has shocked everyone. SP Chavda said, "We rarely come across such brutality in our careers and this is a first for me. Interrogation also revealed that some months ago he attacked old women who were either coming or going to the fields for farming. He would offer to help them if they were carrying large bundles of grass or dry sticks and then after duping them he would hit them and loot them of their ornaments and money. But we have not come across any case of Vijay attacking these older women sexually. We have also registered cases against him for assaulting the elderly women."

Gandhinagar police spun into action when a complaint was filed at Santej Police Station by a woman labourer who lives near Ranchadra village that her five-year-old was abducted on Diwali day and left in a secluded spot on the same day. A medical check-up revealed that the girl was raped and had to be hospitalised.

Two days later another complaint was filed that a three-year-old was missing from a shanty near Khatraj crossroads. Over 110 policemen were deployed to find the girl but unfortunately, her body was found in a culvert later. However, due to sustained investigations, CCTV footage and human intelligence police first questioned forty suspects, zeroed in on ten suspects and narrowed it down to two and then finally picked up Vijay.

Police had first picked up Vijay's elder brother Sanjay Thakor as Vijay was using Sanjay's mobile sim card and also the brothers bear a strong resemblance to each other. Sanjay Thakor also lives in the same village. They share a common wall between their homes. While Sanjay Thakor is a BCA, Vijay is an SSC pass. The village is dominated by the Thakors, an OBC caste.

Villagers in this obscure village are also under shock with the news that Vijay was picked up by the police for the various cases of rapes around their area. Village Sarpanch Ramesh Thakor told reporters that he was also questioned by the police about arranging a Garba during Diwali. Another village sarpanch of Vadavi village was also questioned after Vijay during his interrogation revealed that he had attended a Garba on Diwali day and then on returning from there had picked up the three-year-old from Khatraj.

Police revealed Vijay's modus operandi. Vijay promised to buy new clothes for the girl he picked up on Diwali day and that is how he allegedly duped the five-year-old who he kidnapped, while the seven-year-old girl who he brutalised on October 27 he had lured after he snatched her mobile phone away from her. The girl ran behind him and he abducted her in that way, police informed.

Earlier, Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghvi promised stringent action on November 6 and asked the police to file a charge sheet in the case within ten days. Taking a clue from this, SP Chavda said that they had almost completed their investigations and would be filing the charge sheet shortly. He said that they hoped the case would be tried in the special fast track court for speedy judgement.

Vijay has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, rape, kidnapping, murder and other offences. He has also been booked for assault of elderly women.

Meanwhile, SP Chavda informed that they had formed She teams headed by a sub-inspector or assistant sub-inspector along with five women constables who are visiting different villages of the district to create awareness among children and elderly so that they are not duped by criminals. Also, the She team is trying to find out if any unreported cases of sexual assault have occurred anywhere in the area so that they can be properly investigated.