A serial rapist who is now in police cutody may have targeted more than 50 girls in Delhi alone, but according to police verification on Monday, only seven cases have been verified.
A tailor, Sunil Rastogi, 38, who hails from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, confessed to police that he had been preying on girls since 2004 - when he was just 26 years old.
Rastogi first admitted to raping at least 13 girls but later claimed he had targeted over 50 but could not rape all of them, a police official who did not want to be identified told IANS.
Sounding callous, Rastogi - a father of five including two girls - said he randomly scouted for victims. He told police he would travel to Delhi at least twice a month to satisfy his lust.
The man was arrested from Kalyanpuri, a thickly populated area in east Delhi, on Saturday, police said. The officer added that Rastogi was making claims that could not be verified immediately.
"How many girls he victimised will be clear once we complete his questioning and verify his claims," Deputy Commissioner of Police Omvir Singh Bishnoi told IANS.
Rastogi came to Delhi in 1990 with his family but left in 2004. He lives in Rampur.
Police suspect the number of his victims could be more as Rastogi also had cases registered against him in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
"We had sought details of paedophiles lodged within the last one year in seven jails in Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The reports confirmed his involvement in seven cases. Four of the seven cases were reported from Delhi, one from Haldwani in Uttarakhand and two from Uttar Pradesh," the officer said.
"We are still verifying his statements by visiting the locations where he committed the crime."
Investigators said if Rastogi came to Delhi twice a month in the past 13 years and molested even one girl during every visit, he may have assaulted over 300 girls.
However, he has confessed to victimising over 50 minors, the official said.
"We were told by Rastogi that he managed to rape only 20 per cent of the victims."
Rastogi allegedly raped a minor girl and molested two others -- aged between nine and 10 years -- in New Ashok Nagar in east Delhi last week.
He confessed to sexually molesting a number of minor girls in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand besides New Ashok Nagar.
Several cases of molestation, theft and drug abuse were registered against him in Delhi.
According to police, three cases of child rape and molestation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) were registered at the New Ashok Nagar police station on January 10 and 13.
He allegedly threatened the victims with dire consequences and blackmailed them to prevent them from approaching the police.
He would prowl near schools in Delhi when it shut for the day and would follow a group for a short distance and then pick a child who would stray from the others.
Rastogi used to lure the minors claiming their father had sent him to give them clothes and other articles. He would then take his victim to an isolated spot where he would try to rape them.
If he succeeded, Rastogi threatened the girls with death if they disclosed the assault to their parents.
After each attack, he would return to Uttar Pradesh to evade arrest and he would return again to Delhi after a gap to hunt for new victims.
(With inputs from IANS)