Unsolved Murders

Nayantara Ali

Age: 11

Sex: female

Date: 14 Dec 1994

Place: Winchelsea Road, Forest Gate, East London

Source: www.independent.co.uk

Nayantara Ali disappeared on her way to school and was later found rolled up in a green sheet 50 yards from her home dead having been sexually molested.

She disappeared on 4 November 1994. Her body was found on 29 November 1994.The police said that she had been beaten about the head and that there were indications of her having been sexually assaulted.

Her body was found in Winchelsea Road by the railway arches under a pile of timber, bricks and rubbish bags by workmen clearing debris from the area. It had been wrapped up in a sheet and then rolled up in a carpet. Her body was naked.

The police said that the sheet was pea-green in colour and appeared to be a fitted bottom sheet. The carpet was pinky-beige.

The post-mortem revealed that she had suffered blows to the head, however, it was noted that they were not blows as with an iron bar, but diffused blows such as might be caused by a fist or some such instrument. However, when the pathologist was asked if Nayantara Ali had been punched to death he said that he was not saying that, just that she was not hit with an iron bar.

Nayantara Ali had lived close by in Pevensey Road, about 50 yards way from where she was found.

She was last seen by her grandmother who said that they shared the same bedroom and had woken up together. She said that Nayantara Ali had a glass of milk and that she then left at about 8.15am for school, as she usually did, saying goodbye beforehand as usual.

Nayantara Ali had then gone on her way to Tom Hood School where she was a pupil at the time and had disappeared somewhere on the way. She had been carrying a canvas bag with her PE kit in it and had had 50p pocket money. Tom Hood School was a 15 minute walk away from her home.

When it was noticed that Nayantara Ali had not returned from school at about 4pm, her two uncles became worried and went to her school to find her but discovered that she had not arrived.

They then called the police, but no one came and so then called them again at about 6pm, but it was said that it wasn't until about 7.30pm, about three hours after the first call, that two policemen came to their house.

It was heard that when the police questioned Nayantara Ali's relatives about her disappearance, they had assumed that Nayantara Ali might have vanished back to Pakistan or that she had run off. It was said that they had asked questions such as, 'Did you force her to wear Asian clothes?', 'Did you have any plans to send her back to Pakistan against her will?' and, 'Had an arranged marriage been set up for her?'. Nayantara Ali 's uncle said that he didn't think that the police believed that Nayantara Ali had been abducted and said that they told him that, 'Things like this happen every day'. He said that the police just wanted to make excuses.

Nayantara Ali was murdered around the same time as another girl in Yorkshire, whose case is also still unsolved, but it was heard that the press were not as interested in Nayantara Ali's case as they were the other girls. Each of the families held a press conference, around the same time, but it was heard that very few members of the press turned up to hear Nayantara Ali's parents discuss Nayantara Ali's disappearance. It was noted that Nayantara Ali's mother had flown in for the occasion but that she couldn’t speak English. When her uncle asked the police about the poor turn out, it was heard that the police told him that they could only hold a press conference, and that they could not force reporters to come along.

The uncle said that the press conference for Nayantara Ali's disappearance was the peak of the police activity during the initial and that after that it was all down hill.

However, the police said that they were satisfied that they did everything they could to find Nayantara Ali. The Detective Superintendent said, 'I treated Nayan's disappearance as a potential murder from the day I was put on to the case, I just didn't tell the family. I didn't want to upset them'. He said that they had 50 temporary staff and 12 CID officers on the case in the first week and that following that there were 12 officers. He said that he admitted that that more CID officers would have been useful but said that in London there was always a shortage.

He said that acres of open spaces were searched and more than 300 people interviewed in the first three weeks, which, it was noted, compared to 1,000 in the other comparible case. The police said that Nayantara Ali's uncle had been sat in his front room for the last few weeks and said that because he had not seen them outside his window, that he had assumed that they were not looking.

Nayantara Ali's uncle said that Nayantara Ali had been alive for about four days before she was murdered, and that if the police had not stereotyped her, that they might have found her. He said, 'To them, Nayan was just another Asian girl who was unhappy at home, another Asian girl trying to escape a strict, traditional upbringing. She died because they did not take her disappearance seriously. There is nothing more to say'.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 30 November 1994

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