New Delhi, June 20: A retired lieutenant general and his wife were clubbed to death at their home in one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Delhi in a grisly crime that swivelled the spotlight back on the vulnerability of senior citizens living alone in the capital.
Lieutenant General (retd) Harnam Singh Seth, 85, and his wife Roop, 78, were found dead this morning in the bedroom of their Vasant Enclave duplex flat where they lived alone.
The motive behind the crime is yet to be established, though the house was found partly ransacked, police said. But they added that the ornaments Roop was wearing had not been removed. The police said the Seths did not keep much cash or jewellery at home.
Their elder son, Nikhil, an IFS officer, is in New York and younger child Gaurav, who works in Gurgaon, is visiting Mauritius. However, Gaurav’s wife is in the country.
The brutal double murder — which is thought to have occurred last night — has shocked the colony, which neighbours the Vasant Vihar and West End areas that house some embassies and the residences of VIPs.
The murder is another in a series of crimes recorded in the national capital this year — at least six such murders have been committed since January.
Vijay Kumari Gupta, a south Delhi housewife, was killed in February and her house robbed by her Nepalese servant. D.S. Mongia, a retired government servant, and his wife were also killed, again in south Delhi.
Eighteen of the 500 murders recorded in the capital last year were crimes against the elderly, 11 in south Delhi itself. The previous year, 21 such murders were recorded. In many of these cases, unregistered domestic helps were found to have murdered their employers with a view to robbing them.
Additional deputy commissioner of police, southwest, Shalini Singh, says: “We have carried out so many drives and camps in these neighbourhoods to increase awareness and register these domestic helps. There is a little form that has to be filled. At least when the domestic help knows that his fingerprints are with the police and he can be traced, it is a deterrent to such crimes.”
The bodies of Seth — who retired as Lt. Gen., the Armed Forces Medical Corps — and his wife were discovered by their part-time maid Savitri who found the front door open when she came to work this morning. Savitri, who hails from Calcutta, alerted the neighbours but left soon afterwards, saying she had work at other houses.
The police said the couple did not have a full-time servant and Savitri was standing in for their long-term maid who was on leave. They are now questioning her, another maid servant Chandra and several others in connection with the murder.
The police added that the couple’s hand and feet had been bound and their mouths taped; they had been clubbed to death in their bedroom with an elephant tusk that adorned their drawing room. A whole wall was covered with blood.
Singh said: “It seems to be an insider(’s) job because of the way the intruders broke in. It was someone who knew the layout of the house as the intruders gained entry to the house through the duplex flat’s second floor balcony which is right below the terrace. There had to be more than one intruder.”
Although the police say such crimes occur because the elderly do not register their domestic helps, resident welfare associations say patrolling must be stepped up, with beat constables needing to be more regular about their duty.
“We never had much of security. This colony is open from all sides,” said Rajeshwar, president of the Vasant Enclave Resident Welfare Association, adding that the police have to be more vigilant.