Woman found dead, leopard attack suspected

Police are probing if this could be a murder case

A 28-year-old woman from Bhandup, who had been missing since last week, was found dead in the forest area in Powai on Sunday night. The nature of the injuries suggests that she was mauled by a wild animal, raising suspicions of a leopard attack.

Powai police said the body of a woman was found by local residents. Her face was disfigured beyond recognition. The body was sent to JJ Hospital for post-mortem.

"We found that Bhandup police had registered a missing persons' complaint in the name of a woman, Lalita Chauhan, who was of the same age. The description of the woman also matched. We contacted her family, and they identified the body," said Assistant Commissioner of Police Shantilal Bhamre, Powai division.

"The injuries are consistent with an attack by a wild animal. Lalita seems to have been mauled and dragged for some distance. However, post-mortem reports will confirm the cause of death," Bhamre added.

Senior inspector Shrirang Nadgauda, Bhandup police station, said, "Lalita was staying with her family in Hanuman Tekdi. She left her home on the December 20 morning, saying she was going to a local clinic. However, she never returned."

The road that Lalita took passes through an isolated patch, with the forest on one side and a ravine on the other, and police believe that this is where she was attacked by a leopard.

Powai police will record statements of the family to see if anyone might have had a motive to kill Lalita, officials said.

Deputy Conservationist of Forest G T Chavan said, "We are yet to be contacted by the Powai police about this case. Once they make an official communication, we will check for the possibility of a leopard attack. However, the population of the animal in that area is not high."

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