Police have narrowed down three plausible motives behind the attack on a 45-year-old freelance journalist by unidentified people at a public park in northwest Delhi’s Ashok Vihar that left her with severe brain injuries.
Doctors have said Aparna Kalra, who is being treated at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a private hospital for haematoma or blood clot in her brain, is stable, conscious and talking.
She also underwent an emergency surgery to remove fluid in her brain cavities late on Tuesday night.
In a brief conversation soon after the attack, Kalra told the police she was attacked by two people.
Police said they have registered a case of attempt to murder and that the attack was possibly carried out with iron rods but were clueless about possible suspects.
Robbery, harassment by drug addicts and personal enmity are the three angles the police are probing even as they have questioned more than 100 suspects in Ashok Vihar, Bharat Nagar and nearby areas.
Investigators initially ruled out robbery as the motivation behind the crime as Kalra did not carry her mobile phone, wallet or any valuables when she went to the park, ‘Picnic Hut’, at 6.15pm on Wednesday.
They were forced to consider these options as the DDA park, where the crime happened, is said to be a hotbed of drug addicts and local criminals.
“But drug addicts in this area are notorious for attacking people even for as little as Rs 50. It is possible that the attacker first wanted to knock the woman unconscious before searching her for cash and mobile phone,” a senior investigator said about the line of the probe.
Harassment by drug addicts frequenting the park also appears likely, police said.
“Doctors have confirmed there was no sexual assault on the woman, but we are probing if she was attacked for hitting out at any advances by unwanted elements in the park,” said the officer.
Police are also probing whether personal enmity prompted the murder attempt. They have deployed teams in her neighbourhood to find out if any service provider, neighbour or relative held any grudge against her over even the slightest of issues that sometimes lead to brutal attacks.
“It is likely that someone was waiting to target her and found the huge park as the perfect place to attack her without immediately alerting people. We are also waiting to speak to her to know about her all possible enmities,” said the officer.
Kalra’s family, however, has said they were not aware of her enmity with anyone.
Doctors treating her at the Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh have not permitted the police to speak to her yet.
“Doctors have told us she is stable. Another CT-scan of her brain is set to be conducted before afternoon,” Kalra’s uncle, HC Bhatia, said on Friday morning.
Northwest district police said more than 100 personnel are trying to identify and nab the assailants and that they have released all suspects, barring about a dozen men with criminal past or drug addiction, after questioning them.
“We have deployed our sources in all the slums within a three-kilometre radius of the park where the woman was assaulted. About 12-15 of the 100 suspects rounded up by us continue to remain under our radar,” said another investigator.