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Vasant Vihar murder: Help’s statement helped cops nab killers within 24 hours

It was planned less than two hours before it happened, but it was still supposed to be a perfect robbery and murder
By Prawesh Lama, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 08, 2021 12:24 AM IST

It was planned less than two hours before it happened, but it was still supposed to be a perfect robbery and murder.

The three men were so confident that they would find the elderly woman, Kitty Kumarmangalam, alone that they did not even bother to carry weapons with them. But at 8.10 pm on Tuesday, when the three men entered the flat, the door was opened by Kitty’s recently hired domestic help, Mithila, 33.

To make sure there were no loose ends, they strangulated Mithila with a belt, and left her for dead. But she was only unconscious; she regained her senses about an hour later and it was her statement that helped the police zero in on two of three killers within 24 hours of the murder and robbery.

“The three men, Raju Kanojia, Rakesh Kumar and Suraj, were drunk and believed they had successfully pulled off the heist. Before leaving the building, Raju even checked if Mithila was breathing. Maybe, he was drunk and failed to notice her faint breath. Had Mithila not survived, it would have taken us more time to catch the murderers,” one of the investigating officers, who asked not to be named, said.

Police said the three assumed that both Kitty and Mithila were dead; they divided the loot among them and returned to their lives as if nothing had happened. Raju was asleep when police came knocking on his doors around 3am Wednesday. The second arrested man, Rakesh Raj, reported for work at the ministry of external affairs office on Wednesday morning, where he works as a contractual driver.

“Rakesh went for work as usual and was returning home to Munirka in the afternoon when we arrested him. He could not believe Mithila had survived,” the investigation officer quote above said.

Police officers privy to the probe said Kitty hired Mithila only a few days ago. Police suspect that Raju may not have seen Mithila when he last visited the flat to collect clothes for laundering. Mithila also did not know Raju and could only share with police the basic details about Raju and his two friends. Suddenly, every laundryman in the colony was a murder suspect.

A SLEEPLESS NIGHT FOR LAUNDRYMEN OF VASANT VIHAR

In Block A of Vasant Vihar, there are at least 10-12 laundrymen, who collect clothes from homes for ironing or washing. While some such as Geeta Ram,74, run their shop from the lanes in the block and also live there, others live in the nearby Bhanwar Singh camp -- a small slum settlement next to the bungalows of Vasant Vihar. There are several embassies in the block, including the embassy of the Republic of Lebanon, which is right next to Kitty’s flat.

Geeta Ram said, “Police initially did not know who Raju was and so they picked up several laundrymen for questioning. I was also taken to the police station. There I saw several others who work in Block A. Although police did not abuse or harass us, it was still troubling as until Raju was arrested, we were all suspects.”

Another laundryman, who asked not to be named, said inside the police station, around midnight on Tuesday, they were busy calling their friends and fellow laundrymen to help the police find Raju. “ All our life, we have lived there. Geeta Ram ji has lived here for over 50 years. Most of the upscale residents treat us like family and we visit their homes regularly to do the laundry and ironing. Now because of one incident, we are all under a cloud of suspicion,” he said.

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