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Honeymoon suite turns murder den

Mumbai, May 15: Koushambi Layek loved watching detective serials. Today, Mumbai police are trying to solve the mystery behind the 24-year-old’s murder.

The Tata Consultancy Services engineer, who hailed from Dumka in Jharkhand and stayed in Borivli, was found dead in a hotel with two bullet wounds — on the forehead and neck — yesterday.

She had checked into the honeymoon suite of Hotel Sun-N-Sheel with Manish Thakur, a naval officer.

Thakur, now missing, had registered their names in the hotel as Mr and Mrs Thakur.

“In the hotel register, he wrote he was from Calcutta. He told us that he got married to Koushambi recently. The two were supposed to check out on Monday afternoon,” said R.B. Singh, the general manager of the Andheri hotel.

“The room service assistant got no response despite repeated knocks on the door and phone calls,” Singh said. “When we opened the door with a spare key, we saw her lying in a pool of blood.”

The hotel immediately called the police.

“It is a clear case of murder,” said Bipin Bihari, the additional commissioner of police (western region).

“Koushambi was shot twice from point blank range. One bullet is lodged in the head and the other in the neck. We have found her office pass and a chopper from the spot,” said deputy commissioner Naik Navre. Sniffer dogs have traced a sports shoe that the police believe belongs to the killer.

The police are recording the statements of Koushambi’s mother and relatives — they rushed to Mumbai from Dumka — and are also gathering details about Thakur.

“We are also trying to verify if they were married,” additional commissioner Bihari said.

“We have spoken to some of her (Koushambi’s) relatives but they have not been able to throw any light on the relationship between her and Manish,” Navre said.

“We are still trying to find out how they met and what kind of relationship they shared. It seems they didn’t speak much about it.”

Navre said the police are yet to verify Thakur’s credentials as a naval officer. “We have some clues about Manish’s whereabouts and we will arrest him,” he said.

But Thakur’s cousin Ashwani Anand confirmed that he is in the Indian Navy and the 28-year-old is a resident of Calcutta. He said Thakur’s father works for the Calcutta Tramways Company and his elder brother is a businessman.

In Dumka, Koushambi’s mother Ranjana Devi, a widow, runs a typing institute. Her brother also stays in Dumka. Koushambi, who did her Masters in Computer Applications from BIT, Sindri, left for Mumbai in 2005.

The police are making Thakur’s sketch from the description given by the hotel staff. They suspect Koushambi was gagged before being shot.

An officer said the duo had earlier checked into different hotels in the vicinity of Sun-N- Sheel. Each time, Thakur had used his own name and mentioned Calcutta as the city he hailed from.

Thakur’s mobile is switched off and most of the couple’s common friends have refused to speak to journalists. Thakur’s schoolmate Praveen Jaiswal said: “He is a nice chap.”

Koushambi, too, was all praise in a testimonial she had written for Thakur on Orkut, the popular networking site. “He’s a really caring and loving guy,” it read. Her own Orkut profile said she loved watching detective serials.

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