A 20-year-old woman and her five-month-old daughter drowned after the Maruti Omni van they were travelling in fell into the Munak Canal near Narela in outer Delhi on Tuesday night.
Police said the mother-daughter duo, identified as Hemlata Sharma and her daughter Pritika, were tied to the front passenger seat with seat belt in the van that was found submerged in the canal by the local police and divers from the fire department. However, her husband, who was driving the van when it fell into the canal, survived.
Anil Kumar claimed that he jumped off the vehicle at the last moment. But the woman’s family are alleging foul play. The family has alleged that Kumar first killed the mother-daughter duo and then tied them to the van’s seat and pushed off the vehicle into the canal.
The police said that they were verifying the sequence of events cited by Anil Kumar and the allegations made by his in-laws. No FIR was filed in connection with the incident till Wednesday evening. “We are looking into the matter from all angles. An inquest proceeding has been initiated and we are waiting for the autopsy reports of the deceased,” said Vikramjeet Singh, DCP (outer).
Hemlata’s father, Sushil Kumar, said the matter came to their notice around 10 pm when his son-in-law, Anil, called him to inform that he had an accident at Daryapur Bridge near Munak Canal. According to Sushil, Anil had come to his house to take back Hamlata and Pritika who were staying with them for the past fortnight.
“Hemlata was married to Anil around one and a half years ago. Soon after their marriage, Hamlata learnt that Anil was having an affair with his sister-in-law. Anil often fought with Hemlata whenever she objected his closeness with his sister-in-law. She had recently moved to his parents’ home with her daughter,” said Hemlata’s uncle Sunil Bhardwaj.
Questioning Anil’s version of the story, Hemlata’s family members said that he first informed her brother Ashwani about the incident from a telephone booth located around 2 kilometers away from the mishap site.
“He walked about 2 kilometers on the road alongside the canal that is used by other commuters. Why he did not sought help from any commuters or alerted anybody about the accident before reaching the telephone booth. Also, why he had not fastened his seat belt and how did he manage to jump off so quickly from the speeding van,” questioned Bhardwaj.
Investigators said they were questioning Anil to work out several unanswered questions. The preliminary inquiry has revealed that a night guard employed at a nearby Air Force station had heard somebody screaming for help.
“The initial autopsy reports of the deceased have hinted that they died due to drowning. But the drowning was accidental or planned is a matter of probe,” said an officer.