Retired engineer Sat Parkash Singh (77) and his wife Dr Gurcharan Kaur (76) were found murdered in their house in Garhshankar, 43 km from Hoshiarpur, on Saturday night. They lived with their sons in Mohali (SAS Nagar) and were on a visit to Garhshankar, their native town, since February 16.
Around 11 pm on Saturday, after they did not return phone calls, the couple’s son Dr Gurminder Singh Bedi called up the neighbours, who broke the door open and found that the couple had been asphyxiated to death with a piece of cloth, the police said.
"It was not clear yet if the primary intention was robbery or murder,” senior superintendent of police (SSP) Balkar Singh Sidhu said.
The police have registered a case under section 460 (house trespass and causing death) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and constituted a special investigation team headed by SP (headquarters) Rajeshwar Sidhu.
Neighbours said they had last seen the couple moving inside the house, located on the Government Rest House road, around 6 pm on Saturday.
What has baffled the police is that the assailants took away an old Opel Astra sedan from the house compound, but left behind a Maruti Gypsy and a new Honda City. An almirah in one of the rooms was found ransacked, but it was not clear if the intruders took anything away.
"It could be an attempt to make the murder look like a burglary. We are working on several theories though, and have alerted the police in neighbouring districts,” the SSP said. A forensic team also examined the crime scene.
“My parents had no enemies. They stayed with us in Mohali but used to visit Garhshankar at least twice a month as we have a house and some land there,” said Bedi, a surgeon at the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital in Sector 16, Chandigarh. His brother Satinder Singh Bedi is an industrialist, and the whole family stayed in a house in Phase 7, Mohali.
While Sat Parkash retired as chief engineer from the state public health department in 1994, his wife Gurcharan retired as head of the gynaecology department from Government Medical Hospital, Amritsar, in 1995.