“We would chat for hours whenever she would call and ask us to meet her online once she’d settled down in Singapore. But there was something markedly different about our conversation on the night of February 10,” said Neetu Solanki’s younger sister, 22-year-old Alka.
“We could just talk for about five minutes. She showed us an air ticket and told us to expect her back soon. I knew something was terribly wrong,” Alka added.
As fate would have it, this short conversation over the internet was destined to be the last between the 29-year-old software professional and her family of five.
“There were bruises on either side of her forehead. When we asked what had happened, she said she’d tripped, fallen and had to get stitches,” said Alka, looking away.
“And then, almost as if to change the topic in a hurry, she showed us an air ticket and asked us to expect her soon. That was the last time we saw her,” Alka added.
Nine hours after a visibly-injured Neetu had the above conversation with her family, her body was recovered from a black carrybag, found abandoned at the New Delhi railway station early on morning of February 11.
“All this while, we thought she was on her way back. She loved to surprise us. When her calls and our internet chats stopped for about two weeks, we kept thinking that she was up to her neck in work or in transit,” Alka added.
“All we could think about was her and didn’t even pay attention to all the media coverage.” Meanwhile, Neetu’s mother Susheela rested in a dimly-lit room, waiting for a news channel to air the photographs of her daughter and one of her murderers.
“Our father did all he could for her and for us since we were born. But he was busy with my younger brother’s admission in a medical college during these past two weeks. He was the one who’d helped Neetu get her passport made in an emergency only because she’d expressed her wish to go Singapore,” said Alka.
“A year later, he had to do rounds of mortuaries and police stations, with only a newspaper in his hand to claim her ashes,” Alka added. The eldest of four siblings, Neetu was the quintessential rebel from a middle-class Delhi household, says Alka.
“What will I miss about her the most? I’ll miss her the most, if you must know.”
On February 11, the dead body of a woman was found stuffed inside a bag and abandoned outside the New Delhi railway station. Even as the body lay in a mortuary, waiting to be identified, enquiries poured in, including one from Britain. A senior police official had then said they had received enquiries from around 40 families from Delhi and outside.
Some of them had come in person while others had called or sent photographs. The body of the woman, now identified as Neetu Solanki, whose family resides in west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar, reportedly also had a tattoo.