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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Love story, murder, cover up: How cops cracked 8-yr-old murder case

On Saturday, the Delhi Police exhumed the remains of the missing man, after the arrests of his wife’s partner and his driver. And with that, the police said they cracked the eight-year-old murder case. The woman, however, remains at large.

delhi Updated: Oct 09, 2019 06:23 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Despite the killers digging up the spot to remove the body in 2011, a large chunk of decomposed remains had remained in the ground all these years.
Despite the killers digging up the spot to remove the body in 2011, a large chunk of decomposed remains had remained in the ground all these years. (Sourced )
         

When a 22-year-old man went missing from Samalkha village in south Delhi in March 2011, his father as well as police investigators suspected his newly-wed wife and another man of killing him. But with no evidence against the suspects, the man’s disappearance remained unsolved all these years.

But on Saturday, the Delhi Police exhumed the remains of the missing man, after the arrests of his wife’s partner and his driver. And with that, the police said they cracked the eight-year-old murder case. The woman, however, remains at large.

Over the last eight years, the “killer couple” managed to keep the police at bay by passing a polygraph test and refusing narco-analysis tests before further behavioural examinations confirmed their involvement in the killing, said BK Singh, additional commissioner of police (crime branch).

The findings of the polygraph and narco-analysis tests are not admissible evidence in court but are occasionally used by investigators to get an insight into investigations in complex cases.

“The woman and her boyfriend wanted to resume their relationship, which was interrupted by her marriage to Ravi,” said Singh about the motive behind the murder.

Police have identified the woman as Shakuntala Harijan, 26, and her partner-in-crime as Kamal Singla, 31. Both belong to Tapukara in Alwar and had started datingin 2009. Kamal is a small-time builder who, at the time, used to supply raw materials for construction.

But Shakuntala’s parents were opposed to the relationship and got her married to Ravi — a tempo driver in Samalkha — on 8 February, 2011. “Shakuntala didn’t live with her husband and returned to Alwar the very next day,” said Joy Tirkey, deputy commissioner of police (crime branch).

She came back to her husband’s home in Delhi’s Samalkha village weeks later on March 21, but allegedly with a murder plan. “The next day, she lured her husband out of his house on the pretext of visiting her sister’s place in the same village. They were travelling in a Hyundai Santro, which Kamal and his driver, Ganesh Kumar, had brought along, as per the plan,” said Tirkey. The two posed as distant relatives of Shakuntala’s.

Once Shakuntala got out of the car, Ravi was allegedly strangulated by Kamal and Ganesh, using a rope they brought with them. “Kamal and Ganesh then drove the car to Alwar. The same night, they dug a five-foot deep pit in a plot that belonged to Kamal and buried Ravi’s body inside,” said Tirkey.

Ravi’s father, Jai Bhagwan, alleged that the local police weren’t helpful when he approached them the next day. “They only took my missing complaint, but didn’t probe my son’s disappearance. It was only weeks later that they registered a kidnapping case,” he said.

Jai Bhagwan had told the police that he suspected his daughter-in-law, and her brother — Raju — of kidnapping and killing his son. “But the police paid no attention to me. It wouldn’t have taken them so many years to solve the case had they seriously interrogated the suspects,” Jai Bhagwan said.

Bhagwan had also approached the Delhi High Court in October 2011, after which the investigation was handed over to the crime branch.

“When we began questioning the suspects, Kamal panicked and feared that the police may use sniffer dogs to find the body. So, a few days later, he and Ganesh visited the burial spot and exhumed the decomposed body parts,” Tirkey said.

They then packed the body parts in polythene covers and dumped them at different spots along a 70-kilometre stretch of road between Alwar and Rewari in Haryana, said the officer. The stretch of road falls under the jurisdiction of three police stations and the crime branch is trying to ascertain if the police stations have any records of the recovery of the body parts.

Over the years, investigating officers in this case kept changing, but Shakuntala and Kamal remained the prime suspects.

In 2012, the police conducted polygraph tests for Kamal, Shakuntala and Raju. “All three of them passed the test. We are baffled how they managed it,” Tirkey said.

Two years later, the three turned down the police’s requests for a narco-analysis test.

In November 2017, the police requested more behavioural tests of the suspects. Kamal and Raju agreed to undergo the tests, but Shakuntala went missing. “Having passed the polygraph test, Kamal was confident of passing more behavioural tests by this time,” Tirkey said.

“The test results indicated Kamal’s involvement in the murder and his ongoing relationship with Shakuntala,” said Tirkey. However, Raju’s test results exonerated him. “We are convinced Raju had no knowledge of the murder,” the officer added.

Armed with the test results, the police headed out to arrest Kamal, but he had fled by then. The police eventually announced a reward of Rs 50,000 on his arrest.

The arrest was made nearly two years later, on September 27 this year, when a tip-off led to Kamal being nabbing from Alwar. At his instance, Ganesh was arrested from Bihar’s Samastipur where he had moved after receiving Rs 70,000 for his alleged role in the murder.

“Put through sustained interrogations, the two arrested men led us to the plot of land where they had buried the body. They themselves had forgotten the exact burial spot and we had to dig up a large part of the land using a crane to find the remains,” Tirkey said.

As it turned out, despite the killers digging up the spot to remove the body in 2011, a large chunk of the decomposed body had remained in the ground all these years.

Since the behavioural tests are not admissible evidence in court, the police are now left with the task of carrying out DNA tests on the exhumed bones. They also will have to find Shakuntala.

“Kamal has told us that the couple married after Ravi’s murder. Together, they have a two-year-old daughter. She is now pregnant with their second child, but she is in hiding,” said the police.

First Published: Oct 07, 2019 23:49 IST

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