Age had not slowed Satya Dev Khosla, 82 at the time of his death.
Every workday he dressed immaculately, his highly polished shoes catching the sun as he stepped out for the automobile company office where he still functioned as a director.
Age did not slow Khosla, but murder cut him short.
Four pm, November 5, 2005: The floor of the drawing room of the GK I house was virtually painted with blood.
That's what driver Pankaj Kumar noticed when the sounds of faint groans made him enter the house. He was there to show Khosla the minutes of a board meeting.
On the floor was the barely moving body of S.D. Khosla, slashed all over.
Kumar — who did not carry a cell phone — sprinted out and informed a nearby Police Control Room (PCR) van.
When police reached the spot, they realized something the baffled driver had missed in his panic: they had two victims on their hands, the barely stirring Khosla and his 78-year-old wife Santosh, lying in the adjoining courtyard, already murdered.
In a corner of the ransacked drawing room lay a couple of sleek packed bags, mute witnesses to the ferocity.
The Khoslas were to leave for London on November 8, to attend their son's 50th birthday celebrations. Two days before the flight, S.D. Khosla succumbed to his injuries at AIIMS.
In a city where senior citizens are easy targets for criminals, the Khoslas’ murder stands out for the brutal way in which the crime was committed.
South Delhi Police registered a case of twin homicides against unknown persons. A locker was broken into, but not much else was taken from the house, police found. Five years have passed and no arrests have been made in the case. 'Untraced' is how police describe the investigations.
S.D. and Santosh Khosla: untraced.
What happened that day
Plans for Manoj Khosla's (now 55) 50th birthday celebrations on November 26 2005 were already underway in London.
In Delhi, S.D. and Santosh Khosla had packed their warm clothes in suitcases for their months-long vacation with their son. Daughter Deepa Mehta (60), holidaying with her husband amd children in Goa, was to join them soon.
But that Saturday afternoon, plans were botched in an unimaginable way.
“The main gate was open so I walked to the door and rang the bell,” said Pankaj Kumar in his statement to police in 2005. “I heard someone groaning help. When I peeped in, I saw Khosla sahib covered in blood.”
The single-storied house in quiet, tree-lined R Block, GKI, had no guard.
Kumar ran to Kidpix, a store in the neighbouring house to make a call to police and stopped short at the sight of a PCR van. “I told the police who rushed Khoslaji to a nearby hospital. I did not know his wife was also there. We realized much later she was dead.”
Khosla was taken to a nearby nursing home, and then transferred to AIIMS, where he died, a day later.
Medical exams showed the ferocity of the attack: both husband and wife had multiple, deep stab wounds. Khosla's leg, thigh, back and head were lacerated. His right thumb was attached to his hand only by a shred of skin.
Equally violent was the onslaught on the house: the huge glass-topped center tables had been overturned, vases lay broken, papers kicked around. But apart from a locker — broken into for its jewellery —police or family do not know what else was taken.
“The jewellery on my mother’s body too was left intact,” says Deepa Mehta.
The assailants had a methodical modus operandi.
Police say they entered the house from the terrace, as its door was found broken, and left from the main door.
After committing the crime, an assailant discarded his bloodstained shirt, swapping it with one of Khosla.s, which his son-in-law had got for him from China. The knife used in the crime was found in the backyard, near a tap.
It had been washed.
Why were they killed
At first, police thought the couple were killed for money, which they claimed S.D. Khosla took out from a bank on the day of the incident.
“We thought Khosla had withdrawn Rs 5 lakh from his Punjab National Bank account in Connaught Place,” said a senior police officer who had been looking into the case before it was branded untraced. “We suspected the assailants trailed the deceased from the bank, barged inside the house, killed them and made away with money."
But the theory was discarded when Manoj Khosla — the son, who works with a multinational company in London — arrived in Delhi.
"My father never mentioned to us he had an account in any bank at CP. He did not need to withdraw Rs 5 lakh at all because he was scheduled to fly to us after a few days,” he told the police in his statement in 2005.
Family believe an insider was involved in the job because of the location of the washed knife. No one else could have known about the presence of the tap, tucked away in its obscure corner, in the backyard, they say.
Says Khosla's son-in-law Ashwini Mehta: “That day Papa had taken a suitcase to get it repaired. People knew he was going with us to London. Someone may have thought he would be carrying cash and attacked them for it.”
Police tried to trace the bloody shirt. They found the tailor in Darjeeling but that led to a dead end.
In 2008, the case was more or less abandoned. But not before police questioned almost everyone in touch with the Khosla household, they claim. Frustrated at not being able to make arrests in the high-profile case, the then police commissioner
K.K. Paul transferred the Station House Officer of Greater Kailash Anand Sagar.
The only clue police now have in the case is Mani: a man who used to do odd jobs for the Khoslas and who, police say, went missing two months before the incident. Police say they tried to trace him and even sent teams down south.Mani remains missing.
The Khoslas’ daughter lives in a state fluctuating between hope and despair.
“I could not even be by the side of my parents in their last moments,” says Deepa. “But I have faith and believe the killers will be caught.”
Mehta derives solace from her belief that her father put up a fight in his last moments.
“My father was a fit man. At 82 he could walk straight and was very active. I am sure he went down fighting the assailants. That is why they had to kill my parents.”