Subscribe Now! Get features like
A Swiss national was allegedly murdered by a Delhi resident for turning down his marriage proposal, Delhi police officials said on Saturday, a day after the body of the woman believed to be in her mid-thirties was found in Tilak Nagar with her hands and feettied with metal chains.
The accused has been identified as Janakpuri resident Gurpreet Singh, while the victim’s identity is yet to be conclusively established with investigators saying that Singh changed his statements repeatedly.
What has been established, however, is that Singh on Thursday dumped the body next to an MCD school in Tilak Nagar, where it was discovered on Friday morning. What happened before that is still being verified, an officer aware of the matter said, citing the repeatedly varying explanations Singh gave.
The police have reached out to the embassy of Switzerland for help with confirming the identity of the woman.
In what officers described as his “last believable” version, Singh met the woman while on a trip to Switzerland and the two became friends. “The woman was not keen on turning their friendship into a romantic relationship. Singh, however, wanted to marry her and constantly kept in touch with her over chats and phone calls,” said the officer cited above, who asked not to be named.
READ | 15 years after Soumya Vishwanathan’s murder, is Delhi safer for women now?
On his insistence that she visit India to see the country, the police said citing Singh’s statement, the woman arrived in Delhi on October 11. “On Wednesday morning, Singh strangulated the woman to death in a hatchback car,” added the officer.
It was the car — which was seen in surveillance footage at the time the body was dropped off — that led to Singh being identified, although the accused could not at first be directly linked with it. “When we checked the ownership of the car, it turned out that it was sold as a used car and the documents used for the sale belonged to a woman living in West Delhi. She appeared to be unaware that her documents were misused,” said the officer.
Vichitra Veer, deputy commissioner of police (west), said that investigators then approached a second-hand car dealer from whom the vehicle was purchased recently. “Investigations there led us to Singh. We apprehended him from his home in West Delhi’s Janakpuri on Friday night,” said the DCP.
This is the latest in a string of shocking murders of women in the Capital where the accused have been stalkers or intimate partners. In February, police arrested Sahil Gehlot for murdering his girlfriend Nikki Yadav hours before he married another woman. In November last year, police arrested Aaftab Poonawala for the murder of Shraddha Walkar, whose body was cut up into pieces and scattered over different parts of the city in a crime that remained undiscovered for months.
According to the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) (conducted in 2019-21 period), about 35% of Indian women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced at least one form of intimate partner violence in their entire lifetime, placing India in the 33rd highest spot among 151 countries for which a comparable estimate was available from the World Health Organisation.
Preliminary investigations suggest the murder was premeditated, but Singh disposed the body off in a hurry, the first official cited above said, based on what the accused told interrogators.
After strangulating her, Singh left the car parked at an isolated spot on the roadside. “He has told us that he parked the car somewhere in Vishnu Garden neighborhood of west Delhi. We are checking that,” said the officer.
But, nearly 24 hours later, Singh is said to have checked on the car to find the body decomposing with a strong stench that he feared would attract attention. “He then hurriedly drove the car to the Tilak Nagar spot and dumped the body there after covering it with a black plastic cover,” the officer said.
The police have registered a case of murder and destruction of evidence and informed the Switzerland Embassy about the crime so that the victim’s family is informed and they arrive in India to identify the body. “We will need to carry out a DNA test to confirm her identity since Singh is the only person to identify her so far,” said the officer.
A search of Singh’s house led to the discovery of over ₹2 crore in cash, the officer said. “We have informed the concerned authorities about the recovery. They’ll ascertain its source and legal status,” said the officer.
Singh allegedly told police that he had no formal job, but his father earned handsomely from renting out several properties he owned. “His family has also told us that they are into precious gemstone business. The family’s background and businesses are being verified,” said the first officer, adding that the Income Tax department had been notified about the cash.
A neighbour said the accused lived in a family of four in an upper ground flat in B block of Janakpuri. A resident welfare association (RWA) member, who did not want to be identified, said that even though the family had been living there for the last nine years, neighbours hardly interacted with them.
“The limited interactions known to me was their occasional quarrels with some neighbours, once over garbage disposal. We didn’t even know what work this family was into. They were a religious family,” said the RWA member.
“All we knew was that they owned multiple properties in Delhi-NCR,” said the member.
Subscribe Now! Get features like