Unidentified miscreants allegedly strangulated a businessman to death and stabbed his wife at their house on Hira Singh Road near SCD Government College on late Thursday night.
The accused also ransacked the house before fleeing. However, if anything was stolen is yet to be ascertained.
The deceased has been identified as Sudhir Girdhar (57). He and his wife Neena Girdhar (52) were alone at the time of the incident. They run a shop, Girdhar Textiles, on Gujjarmal Road in old city area.
Neena was rushed to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) where her condition is stated to be stable. However, the police are yet to record her statement.
The murder in a posh locality has put the police in jittery. On receiving information, police commissioner Nirmal Singh Dhillon, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Harsh Bansal, additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) City 3 Joginder Singh and CIA staff reached the spot and initiated investigation.
According to police, Neena's nephew Rahul was the first to witness the catastrophe.
In his statement to police, Rahul said he reached the Girdhars' house on early Friday morning to pick Neena, who, along with her sister Asha, was to leave for Ferozepur to visit her ailing mother.
However, despite his persistent knocking, nobody opened the door following which he peeped in through the gate, and was shocked to see his aunt lying unconscious on the floor, and profoundly bleeding.
He then jumped over the gate to enter the house and found his uncle Sudhir dead in the bathroom.
He immediately sounded the police and telephoned Neena's daughter Aashima. Meanwhile, Aashima's mother-in-law Karuna reached the spot. She was on her way to Delhi and stopped by to greet her relatives.
Giving details, police commissioner Nirmal Singh Dhillon said according to preliminary investigation, the killers seemed to be known to the family, as there were no signs of forceful entry.
"The killers strangulated Sudhir with a handkerchief, while his wife was stabbed with a kitchen knife and dragged to the verandah in front of the house. The knife is yet to be recovered," he added.
Dhillon said, "The killers ransacked the house before leaving, but if anything has been stolen can be ascertained only after recording the statement of Neena, who is undergoing treatment at DMCH."
"It appears to be a incident of robbery turning into murder. But it is also possible that the accused entered the house with the intent of murder and ransacked the house to mislead the police. We are investigating the matter thoroughly and will solve it soon," he added.
ADCP city-3 Joginder Singh said though Neena was stable, she was unable to record her statement, adding that the situation would become clear after her account, and she might be able to identify the accused as well.
The victims' in-law Karuna said the couple had two daughters Aashima and Vishakha. While Aashima, her daughter-in-law, was living in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Vishaka was pursuing a bachelor's degree in technology from Amritsar. She said the family had no enmity with anyone.
Police suspect Sudhir's sacked employee behind murder
Police suspect a former employee of Sudhir to be behind the murder. They apprehended Anil Kumar, who was sacked by Sudhir three months ago. Another employee has also been rounded up for questioning.
Investigating in the matter, the police came to know that Sudhir had expelled Kumar, as he suspected the salesman of stealing goods from his shop.
The police suspect that Kumar could have possessed a grudge against his former employer and therefore hatched a conspiracy to murder him.
They also found that another employee of the shop called one of Sudhir's relatives informing them of Sudhir's demise, even as they had no information about the murder yet. On being questioned on how he knew about the murder, the employee was answerless. Therefore, the police rounded him up for questioning.
The police also questioned the area watchman, Subhash, who told the police that he was present in the area from 10pm to 6am, but noticed nothing.
Police scan CCTV cameras installed in the area
The police are scanning all CCTV cameras to find clues about the killers. The police found a CCTV camera installed on an ATM shop next to the victims' house, but found nothing. The police have called upon all residents, who have CCTVs installed outside their premises, to help police solve the case. Meanwhile, police stopped traffic on Hira Singh Road.