The police have arrested a watchman for allegedly murdering a 74-year-old woman, Mumtaz Badshah, in her flat in Oshiwara on February 11.
The watchman, originally from Jammu & Kashmir, had been employed at the building for the past two years. According to the police, he killed the woman to ‘expose’ poor security at the housing society after another guard was hired to replace him.
He was arrested from J&K after fleeing the city in the wake of the murder. The police said the accused, identified as Rafi Chaudhary, had planned the murder 10 days in advance and took many precautions to avoid being caught.
Badshah was alone in her home in the society’s D-wing between 10.30am and 12.30pm on February 11, during which time Chaudhary allegedly entered her house and killed her with a kitchen knife.
Aware that he would be captured on CCTV footage if he used the D-wing entrance, he entered the adjacent C-wing and accessed the D-wing through a shared terrace, according to the police. “The accused used to work as a caretaker but the building management told him he would be let go and hired a new guard. He committed the offence to show how bad the new guard was at his job. We have recovered the knife and his bloodstained clothes,” said Satyanarayan Chaudhary, deputy commissioner of police, zone IX.
Police officials said Chaudhary repeatedly stabbed Mumtaz in the neck and returned to the terrace by the same route. It was only at 12.30pm that Badshah’s murder came to light, when her husband Rashid, 75, asked their grandson to check on her.
The grandson peeped in through a window and saw she was dead. The murder was reported to the police, upon which officials started scanning CCTV footage from the society.
They also questioned Chaudhary as a suspect but found no inconsistencies in his statement. Chaudhary told the police he was taking a bath at the time the murder is believed to have taken place.
However, as the investigation progressed, Chaudhary fled Mumbai. This raised suspicion among the police. A team was dispatched to Gujarat to look for him, but it returned empty-handed.
Then, on February 24, another team was sent to Jammu & Kashmir, where Chaudhary was arrested from a remote, mountainous area and brought to the city. He has been remanded in police custody until March 11.