More than eight years after the body of 29-year-old Neetu Solanki was found stuffed in a bag outside New Delhi railway station, the Delhi Police Wednesday said her suspected killer, Raju Gehlot, had died at a private hospital in Gurugram Tuesday.
Gehlot, a 29-year-old employee with Air India at that time, was Solanki’s live-in partner and back then, the police had suspected that the couple may have married without the woman informing her family.
Known as the case of the “girl with a peacock tattoo”, it had drawn widespread attention in 2011, but Gehlot remained untraced all these years.
Gehlot was earlier suspected to have fled to Bangkok after his photographs were widely circulated by the police — they had printed over 10,000 posters, pasted it across the city and also announced a reward of Rs. 50,000 for information about the man.
Delhi Police had also sent teams to Bengaluru, Karnataka, and sought help from their sources in Bangkok on Gehlot.
Police said that Gehlot had been hiding at different places in India over the last eight years.
“Most recently, he was in Gurugram working with a firm dealing in automobiles. He was living under an assumed identity, kept to himself and didn’t speak much to his colleagues— he probably kept in touch with his family,” Rajeev Ranjan, additional commissioner of police (crime branch), said.
Gehlot developed stomach pain a few days ago, after which he got himself admitted to a hospital in Gurugram as Rohan Dahiya. The officer said the initial probe has revealed that he suffered from some liver ailment and succumbed to it late Tuesday. “His family got to know of his death and visited the hospital. We were alerted by our informers and reached the hospital. We have confirmed his identity and can say with certainty that Gehlot is dead,” said the officer.
The police are probing how Gehlot’s family got to know of his death, and how he managed to assume a fake identity, despite his photograph being widely circulated.
“Gehlot was declared a proclaimed offender. The case was being investigated by the crime branch all along,” Ranjan said, adding that the police would now move to obtain the death certificate and submit it before the court and seek a closure of the case since the accused is dead.
Solanki was law graduate and worked as a call centre employee.
She lived with Gehlot in a rented accommodation in south Delhi’s Ashram.
Her body was found in a bag outside New Delhi railway station on February 11, 2011.
Her throat was slit and the police suspected that Gehlot killed her at their residence the same day.
A peacock tattoo on her body helped her parents identify it on February 23.
In the days that followed, the crime branch arrested Gehlot’s relative for allegedly harbouring and concealing Gehlot. The relative had allegedly given ₹10,000 to Gehlot, but had turned down Gehlot’s request to borrow his car. The police had cited an eyewitness account to claim that it was Gehlot who had dumped the bag containing the body outside the railway station.
In the subsequent probe, the police found that Gehlot had been living under an assumed identity and suspected that he was involved in some fraud. A photo album, fake stamps and some loan documents were recovered from the residence of the couple after the murder.
Until two years ago, the Delhi Police had been tracking his family’s phone call records, but had not been able to trace Gehlot. “The most shocking part was how a man with no criminal antecedents managed to get the better of police teams and remain off the grid all these years. Even hardcore criminals cannot pull this off. I recall that some of the best officers of crime branch were hunting for Gehlot,” a former crime branch officer said.
Jun 27, 2019 05:45 IST
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