In a major breakthrough, police on Sunday arrested Salim Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, who allegedly killed his five minor daughters by throwing them into the Narmada River in Bharuch town in Gujarat on February five.
Two bodies have been fished out so far by search parties.
Investigating Officer (Bharuch Police station) V J Patel told PTI, "Sheikh was taken into custody by the Veradiya village police post where he was hiding after the crime. A police party has been sent to bring him to Bharuch."
Earlier in the day, police registered a murder case against Sheikh on the basis of a compliant filed by his wife Roshanben, who said he was under 'tension and mental stress due to paucity of money and the thought of bringing up five daughters'.
Patel told rediff.com that the couple had constant fights over money. After throwing the girls into the river, Sheikh was also about to jump when he was spotted by a truck driver. He then fled from the spot.
He had later telephoned his wife in Veradiya village saying: "I have helped the daughters board a train from Bharuch and I'm going to commit suicide under the train."
The phone call, according to the complaint, was made at 4:30pm on Thursday, approximately 20 minutes after he allegedly threw his daughters into the deep river waters, police said.
His wife and her father kept waiting all night and it was only after seeing newspaper reports that they rushed to police station the next day.
Of the five girls (aged between three and seven years), bodies of Suhana (3) and Yashmeen (5 1/2) were fished out by search parties on Saturday.
Suhana's body was found near a brick kiln under the Golden bridge, about four km away from Jadeshwar - where they were flung into the waters, while Yasmeen's body was found on the river bank near Tawra village, also about four kilometre away on the western side. None of the bodies had any injury marks but they were bloated because of drowning.
Sheikh is a native of Surat where he worked in a gambling den, ran errands for people and drove an auto-rickshaw. "He frequently kept changing houses in Surat before shifting to his in-laws' village Veraidya some time ago. There too, he drove a rickshaw but earnings were too meagre to support a family of eight," police said/
An investigation has revealed that he has 'not visited the gambling den for the last five years'.
According to his wife, Sheikh had incurred a debt of nearly Rs 10,000 and 'for last several months, he kept on worrying how to repay it'.
With inputs from Vijay Singh