Five months on, twist in NFC death: Cops say victim strangled, arrest two men

DCP (Crime Branch) G Ramgopal Naik identified the accused as Tassim and Pritam. “The arrests were made after several rounds of questioning. Further investigations are on,” he said.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi | Published: December 5, 2017 1:20 am
The victim, Hemant Chawla.

Delhi Police has arrested two persons for allegedly killing an Indian-born US citizen, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his friend’s home in New Friends Colony on July 4. The arrests were made on Sunday evening by the southeastern range of the Crime Branch. Both accused were produced before a Delhi court and sent to three-day police custody Monday.

DCP (Crime Branch) G Ramgopal Naik identified the accused as Tassim and Pritam. “The arrests were made after several rounds of questioning. Further investigations are on,” he said. Police said the victim, Hemant Chawla, was a US citizen who came to Delhi after taking a sabbatical from his job as a financial analyst, following the death of his father, last year. Police said they are probing if Hemant’s sexual orientation was a factor in his murder.

“On July 4, Hemant’s driver Balwant Singh dropped him off at his friend Nitin Sabharwal’s house. He was later found dead there,” a senior police officer said. His sister Shivani Ahluwalia alleged: “There were only three people in the house other than my brother — Nitin, who owns the home, his mother, and another friend. My brother was healthy when he went to meet them; he wasn’t suffering from any disease. His post-mortem report, which I was shown but not given a copy of, shows there are contusions on his neck.”

She added: “My brother was gay but he was not in a relationship with any of the men who have been arrested.”
Police said Sabharwal is currently in hospital, and is likely to be arrested in the coming days. The arrested accused are his friends, police said. “The arrests were made after the probe team received a final opinion on the cause of the death from a board of three doctors. The board, in its report, unanimously concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation,” an officer said.

A case was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by Hemant’s mother Neena Chawla. “She told police that she was in the UK, at her daughter’s home, when she received a call around 6 am from the driver, who informed her that Hemant was unconscious. Hemant’s friend took the phone and told her the same thing,” an officer said. The family initially decided not to conduct a post-mortem, but were asked to do so by the SHO of NFC police station. A case under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 34 was registered on July 19 after the autopsy, conducted at AIIMS, showed injury marks on Hemant’s neck.

The case was transferred to the Crime Branch in August. Police started questioning Hemant’s friends and sent his viscera to the forensic laboratory to ascertain the exact cause of death. “Police found during initial investigation that Hemant was invited by Sabharwal. The latter left home with his friends and returned later, while Hemant was at his place the entire time,” police said.

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