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Woman murdered in outer Delhi, suspects bury corpse

Jan 13, 2023 05:40 AM IST

Police arrested three suspects for the January 2 murder on Wednesday, officers said. The caretaker of the cemetery where the body was buried was also arrested for taking a bribe and helping the suspects bury the body, they said.

A 53-year-old moneylender was kidnapped from outside her house in outer Delhi, smothered to death and then buried at a cemetery in the city, police officers said on Thursday, adding that the three suspects in the case allegedly killed her as they owed her money.

Three men were arrested for killing Meena Wadhawan and the cemetery caretaker was arrested for helping bury the body. (ANI)

Police arrested three suspects, identified as Mubeen Raza (28), Naveen (32) and Mursalim alias Rehan (19), for the January 2 murder on Wednesday, officers said. The caretaker of the cemetery where the body was buried was also arrested for taking a bribe and helping the suspects bury the body, they said.

According to police, Meena Wadhawan, the victim, gave loans to street vendors and others on a daily basis, including to Raza, an auto-rickshaw driver, and Naveen, a tailor. The two suspects also worked as middlemen in her moneylending business, they said.

On January 2, Wadhawan was abducted outside her Avantika Enclave house near Mangolpuri. Raza then smothered her to death at his house along with Naveen. Deputy commissioner of police (outer) Harendra Kumar Singh said Raza and Naveen murdered Wadhawan because she had been asking them to repay the 15,000 they owed her before giving them a fresh loan. Mursalim, a barber, helped them in the murder and to dispose of the body, the DCP said.

Officers aware of the case said after killing Wadhawan, the three then transported her body to a burial ground in Nangloi and clandestinely buried her in the early hours of January 3. Before burying the body with the limbs tied, the three removed all the gold jewellery Wadhawan was wearing. They also burnt her mobile phone to evade detection, police said.

Shortly after Wadhawan left her house on January 2, her four children attempted to contact her but at first, their calls went unanswered and later her phone was unreachable. They then searched the neighbourhood for their mother, and on January 3, lodged a missing person’s complaint at the Mangolpuri police station.

Police said Raza and Naveen accompanied the family to the police station when they went to file the complaint.

According to DCP Singh, police started to suspect the role of Raza and Naveen after the locations of their cellphone were found at the same places as Wadhawan’s last phone locations. “The suspicion grew when Naveen approached a Delhi court and secured his anticipatory bail on January 7, after the woman’s missing person’s complaint was converted into a kidnapping case,” Singh said.

If the subject of a missing person’s complaint is not found, police convert it into a kidnapping case.

An investigator involved in the case said, “We did not have other evidence (barring the phone locations) to corroborate Naveen’s role... Our suspicion grew when Naveen secured a no coercive action against him in the kidnapping case from a court that, however, directed him to join the probe. We later got the court order cancelled and then, when we interrogated and confronted Raza and Naveen with technical evidence, they broke down and confessed to the crime.”

Police said Raza has confessed that he had taken Wadhawan to his house in his auto on the pretext of introducing her to some prospective clients. Naveen and Mursalim were already present at his house when she arrived. They demanded money from her but she refused and asked them to return their previous loans, following which they killed her.

Wadhawan’s family members, declining to be named over fears of reprisals from the accused, have alleged that the suspects forced her to pick up a phone call from her son, and demanded that she tell him to come with 50 lakh for her safe release. They claimed that when Wadhawan refused to do so, the suspects killed her.

Police, however, have not corroborated this version of events.

“The trio panicked after Wadhawan died. They decided to dispose of her body. As Mubeen and Naveen had lived in Nangloi, they decided to bury her in that neighbourhood’s burial ground. Around 1am on January 3, the three removed the jewellery from Wadhawan’s body, left with the corpse for Nangloi, and then buried her body in an already dug grave at the burial ground,” the investigator.

After the suspects were interrogated, the body was exhumed on Wednesday. An autopsy was conducted on Thursday and the body was then cremated, police said.

Police said they also arrested Sayeed Ali (40), the caretaker of the burial ground, for taking a bribe of 5,000 to allow the burial and not make the entry in the register.

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