Kitty Kumaramangalam (70), lawyer and wife of former union minister P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, was smothered to death allegedly by a washerman and his two associates during a robbery bid at her Vasant Vihar flat on Tuesday night.
Police arrested the dhobi, Raju Lakhan (24), hours after the crime and apprehended his associate Rakesh Raj (34) on Wednesday. A search is on for the third accused, who went to Jaipur to sell 3 kg gold that they stole from the house.
According to police, Lakhan lives nearby while Raj is a driver and works at the Ministry Of External Affairs on a contract basis. “A team led by ACP (Vasant Vihar) Rakesh Dixit arrested both the accused. Raj was a close friend of main accused Raju who hatched the plan to rob the deceased’s house. His share was Rs 60,000 from the loot which was recovered from his possession,” said DCP (Southwest) Ingit Pratap Singh.
The DCP said they received a call about the incident around 11 pm from the victim’s domestic help, Mithila: “She said Raju came to their home around 9 pm. She opened the door for him but he overpowered her and dragged her to another room.”
Mithila alleged that his two associates also entered and they overpowered Kitty. A senior police officer said: “They dragged her to another room and smothered her to death when she tried to raise an alarm. They decamped with some money and jewellery. The domestic help managed to untie her hands. She then called out to neighbours for help, who rushed in and untied her. They informed police of the crime.”
Police rushed to the spot and moved Mithila to a nearby hospital, where she is recuperating. “The victim’s house was ransacked. We have informed her son, who lives in Bengaluru,” Singh said.
During questioning, Raju told police that he has been working as a washerman for the last five years in the area and the victim would call him whenever she wanted to give clothes for ironing. “The victim had asked her domestic help to leave some months ago. A few days ago, she asked Raju to put the ironed clothes in her almirah; that’s when he found her jewellery. He told his friends and decided to rob her. But he was not aware that the victim had hired Mithila five days back. After consuming liquor, the trio came to the house on Tuesday night. They tried to kill Mithila but she fell unconscious. Before escaping, they found she was still alive so Raju tried to smother her but failed. They wanted to flee as soon as possible so they left her,” an officer said.
Victim lived alone
Following her husband’s death in 2000, Kitty Kumaramangalam lived alone in her second-floor flat. An office functions from the building’s basement and it is surrounded by the Iraq and Lebanon embassies, which have security guards round the clock. Locals said security persons of individual houses also go on rounds in the evening and night.
DCP Singh said the deceased was not enrolled as a senior citizen as her daughter, Ruchira, a resident of Gurgaon, mostly stays with her. Her son, R Mohan Kumaramangalam, would also stay with her when he visited.
Neighbours The Indian Express spoke to said the victim was a quiet woman who was rarely seen outside. “Most people in the area keep to themselves… According to her driver, she worked in the vicinity and did not require transport on most days. The incident is shocking because this is a secure area with CCTVs everywhere,” said a staff member at a nearby house.
Nearly 2 km away in Nepali colony at Bhanwar Singh Camp, Raju’s family claimed he is innocent. His mother Geeta claimed he has been working as a dhobi for many years and has never faced any complaints. “He picks up clothes from 50 other houses… he is being framed,” she alleged.
Kitty’s husband was a Congress MP from Salem and became Minister of State for Law, Justice and Company Affairs in July 1991. Later, he joined the BJP and was one of the first party MPs from Tamil Nadu. He served as Union minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s second and third cabinets too.