A charred body found in a sealed nursery near Khan Market on Wednesday has been identified as that of 15-year-old Atul who had been missing from Prithviraj Lane since April 10. The body had been lying in the nursery for a week,police said.
Police have arrested 21-year-old Neeraj,a flower seller,for the murder. Footage from CCTV cameras led police to Neeraj. Police claimed he was often humiliated by Atul who had blocked his plans to head a gang.
When police found the body at Kamal Nursery on Wednesday,Atuls parents were called since they had reported he was missing. His mother was unable to identify the body then but on Thursday confirmed it was that of her son. She also said the slippers found at the spot belonged to Atul,police said.
After Atul went missing,a case was lodged at the Tughlaq Road police station. Police said Neeraj was furious with Atul for spreading the word that he had Rs 5 lakh whereas he possessed only Rs 5,000. On April 10,he called Atul to the disused Kamal Nursery near Khan Market. He strangled him with a plastic rope and fled, a senior police officer said.
According to police,Neeraj was confident that nobody would find the body since the nursery was no longer functional. He even returned to work. But a week later,he realised that the stench of a rotting body would lead to its discovery and,therefore,decided to get rid of it,police said.
He returned to the nursery and set fire to the corpse but the smoke was noticed and the police alerted.
Police searched their records for a missing teen and zeroed in on Atul. They began questioning his friends. From CCTV footage of the Khan Market area,police realised he was last seen with Neeraj around 9 pm on April 10.
According to police,Neeraj feigned ignorance but there were enough telltale marks.
The hair on his left leg was singed,his right foot had an injury caused by barbed wire. His shoes had charred remains on them, said Taj Hassan,Joint Commissioner of Police (Central Range).
Atuls father Suresh works at the India Habitat Centre. His mother Asha said: Why was he murdered? He had done no wrong to anyone. I cannot believe that my son is no more.