Five years after a reclusive ex-Indian Army officer went mysteriously missing from his posh south Delhi bungalow, a domestic servant, whom the former had nurtured as a brother for more than a decade, led the police to his buried skeletal remains.
The mere realisation that Captain Anurag Raj, 48 — a resident of Satya Niketan who was last seen in late March 2007 — was slowly but steadily drifting back towards his estranged family was reason enough for Bhullai Ram, 31, to murder him in cold blood before relegating him to a makeshift grave.
"Enquiries made during investigation revealed there was a strong bond between Capt. Raj and Bhullai Ram. So much so, that he had even willed a huge estate from his ancestral property in Bhullai Ram’s name," said Chhaya Sharma, DCP (south).
Born to a Brigadier in 1972, his drinking habit had forced Capt. Raj to take voluntary retirement from the Rashtriya Rifles in 1992, an investigator said.
Two years later, when his wife left him because of the same habit, Capt. Raj restricted social contact with to a sole human being: Bhullai Ram, who had been working for him ever since being recruited by the army at the age of 16.
"Due to strained family ties, there was virtually no one else in his life except Bhullai Ram whom he was even helping to build a small house at his native village in Uttar Pradesh's Raebareli. This March, his skeletal remains were exhumed from the same house," DCP Sharma said.
Precisely five years after his rage and, perhaps jealously, had prompted Bhullai Ram to smash Capt. Raj's skull with the latter's rifle, he spilled the proverbial beans a day before his police remand was scheduled to end.
Interestingly, a single hand-written note addressed to his elder sister in which he had expressed his wish to stay with her, helped investigators decipher the contours of what their predecessors couldn't.
"In the note, the Captain, seemingly heartbroken at Bhullai Ram's disloyalty, had also complained about a slight tiff he had had with him recently. That set us thinking about his possible involvement in the case," said an officer.
"Bhullai Ram had even managed to pass a lie detector test, conducted on him during initial investigations into the case, unblemished." But, he broke down during repeated rounds of questioning over eleven days.
After killing Capt Raj, he had then had wrapped his body in a blanket, shoved it into an iron trunk and transported it to his village before burying it.
Over the five years, Bhullai Ram was busy forging cheques and withdrawing money from Capt. Raj's bank account.
He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.