London, Nov. 21: The husband of an Indian-origin woman who was found murdered with an arm chopped off has denied that he killed her.
The victim, Geeta Aulakh, was found by a passerby on a street near Southall, west London, on Monday evening with her right arm severed.
Yesterday, Geetas husband, Harpreet, 31, said he was not responsible.
Geetas hand had been hacked off by a machete or sword in a frenzied attack while Geeta was held down by more than assailant, police believe.
She was taken to Charing Cross Hospital but died four hours later at 11.20pm.
Geeta, a receptionist at Sunrise Radio, a popular Asian radio station, was just 100m from picking up her two sons, aged nine and eight.
A number of men, including Harpreet, from whom she was separated and apparently seeking a divorce have been questioned and released on bail a routine procedure.
Speaking outside a house he shares with a number of other men in nearby Hounslow, Harpreet said: I love Geeta, I would never hurt her. I had nothing to do with it. CCTV (close circuit television) proves I was in a pub at the time. I was nowhere near the crime scene.
He added: The police arrested me because I helped them with a gang-related crime years ago, a shooting in Hounslow, and they had me on file. Im going to find out who did this and those people will pay, even if it takes me the rest of my life.
He admitted there would be suspicions that he might have hired a contract killer. I know I am the prime suspect, but everyone is convicting me. Im scared walking the streets.
Sudharshan Bhuhi, who runs a 24-hour helpline for Asian women, said: It is very early for the police to steer away from honour crime, they should not shy away from using the words. What is coming out about her is typical of the women we talk to. As an Indian woman and a Sikh myself who runs an Asian-specific organisation, I know it takes much longer for women from my culture to be able to state these feelings of fear and act on them. All this fear is coming out now after her death and all we feel here is immense sadness that another human life has been lost unnecessarily.
At Sunrise Radio there is shock at the news of Geetas death.
Avtar Lit, owner of the radio station, described Geeta as a very private person. What is emerging now is that Geeta did share with some of her female colleagues that she felt frightened and harassed but she didnt reveal a great deal, and little bits of what she said are coming out now.
Born Geeta Shinh, she grew up in Southall, the heart of Punjabi settlement in the UK, grew up with two brothers and two sisters. When she was 17, she met Harpreet, known as Sunny, and the couple fell in love.
However, her mother, who worked in a GPs surgery, and her father, a warehouseman, were unhappy about the match as Harpreet was unemployed.
Despite parental misgivings, the couple married and had two sons. They also moved for a while to Belgium. Three years ago, Geeta obtained the Sunrise Radio job in Southall.
She was a very important part of the office, always smiling, always helpful, Lit recalled. She once told me that shed grown up listening to Sunrise and it was her dream to work here when she was an adult.
Evidence of domestic disharmony is now emerging.
During one argument at home in September 2002, Geeta had been concerned enough to dial 999 late at night. When officers arrived, she refused to file a complaint and the incident was marked as no crime. This happened again last October. Officers arrived at her home but no complaint was filed and no crime was recorded. That month, Geeta separated from her husband and was understood to have been living in a council house in Greenford.
A friend, Myrah Mistry, who knew her for 17 years, said: She wasnt happy, so she left. He (Harpreet) was trying to get back with her but she didnt want to. I think she was thinking about divorce, she was going down that road. He used to call her quite often, he would sometimes come into the radio station.
According to a police source, we are not talking about a stranger attacker here who she does not know. It is complicated but what you are looking at is a fairly closed group of people.