A day after a 72-year-old woman passed away in a Santacruz hospital, police arrested her former domestic help Sunday night who had allegedly strangled her and robbed Rs 5,000 from her home. Accused Pravinsingh alias Sanip Rawat (19) was traced after he called a friend in his native village.
Rawat was employed in the home of Chanda Raheja, a retired banker, as a help a year ago, but abruptly left the job some time back to return to his village in Uttarakhand, the police said.
He has been remanded in police custody until July 12.
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Raheja, who was allegedly attacked by Rawat Wednesday, died Sunday afternoon at Asha Parekh Hospital. While the actual cause of her death is yet to be known, the police said apart from strangulation marks there were no other injury marks on Raheja’s body.
“Rawat knew that Raheja was wheelchair-bound and lived alone, and took advantage of that fact,” said Satya Narayan Choudhary, DCP, Zone IX.
“Rawat had dropped out of school after Class VIII and had been living in Nehru Nagar slums in Juhu for several years. He had worked in many restaurants and homes in Santacruz as a cleaner but could never hold on to one job because he would steal something each time,” said an officer from Santacruz police station.
Rawat, the police said, had also worked at a restaurant on SV Road in Santacruz from where Raheja had ordered food Wednesday. The police said the food was delivered between 8 pm and 8.30 pm.
On Wednesday, Rawat and another man, who is on the run, went up to Raheja’s fifth floor apartment in Shalimar Society in Santacruz West at 8.30 pm. Choudhary said the duo told the guard at the building that they were going to Raheja’s house to work. When Raheja answered the door, Rawat allegedly introduced his friend as a help who she could hire. “Once she let them inside, Rawat strangled her,” said a senior officer.
The two had been inside for two hours but could manage to find only Rs 5,000. “They were unable to open a cupboard in which Raheja had stored her valuables because they did not have a key,” Choudhary said.
Armed with the images of Rawat and his friend captured in the CCTV cameras, the police began making inquiries at all restaurants in the area. “We rounded up more than 25 waiters and cleaners. Finally, a waiter at the same restaurant where Raheja had ordered food from identified Rawat,” the officer said.
Rawat did not have a cellphone and was tracked only after he made two calls to a friend in Uttarakhand from two STD booths. “He needed money… When we caught him, he had only Rs 20 left,” the officer said.
He said of the Rs 5,000 that Rawat had stolen from Raheja’s home, he had spent Rs 2,500 on a prostitute in Kamathipura,
Rs 2,000 on food and Rs 500 on liquor.