A day after arresting two men in connection with the death of an Indian-born US citizen, Delhi Police on Tuesday made another arrest — the victim’s friend, at whose New Friends Colony home he was found dead on July 4.
“We have arrested Nitin Sabharwal (48) on murder charges. Yesterday, we had arrested his friends, Mohammed Tassim (32) and Pritam Saini (27), who were also present at his home when the victim, Hemant Chawla, died,” Special Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) R P Upadhyay said.
On Tuesday, the accused were produced before a Delhi court and sent to 14-day judicial custody to Tihar Jail. Police said Hemant was allegedly strangled at Nitin’s home, and that the three accused left soon after “to meet their female friends”. Police said that all of them had admitted to being inebriated at the time.
“During questioning in the initial days after the death, Nitin and Tassim maintained Hemant was alone at Nitin’s home during the time of his death. They did not disclose that Pritam was with them. The two also suggested the possibility of Hemant consuming drugs and alcohol, which is why police initially explored the drug overdose angle,” an officer said. However, the accused were unable to explain why there was no alcohol bottles at the spot, or why Hemant’s T-shirt, which he was wearing underneath his shirt, was missing.
Hemant’s family, meanwhile, insisted he was in good health, and that he had been murdered. After the family decided to conduct a post-mortem, a case was registered under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 34 at NFC police station on July 19. The autopsy conducted at AIIMS showed marks consistent with strangulation on Hemant’s neck.
“Hemant’s family also met Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and the case was transferred to the Crime Branch. They sent the preserved viscera to the forensic laboratory to ascertain the exact cause of the death, since the accused were claiming that Hemant had consumed drugs,” a senior police officer said.
However, while the viscera report suggested that a moderate amount of alcohol had been consumed, it could not establish if any drugs were taken. “The investigation team then received a final opinion from a board of three AIIMS doctors, who unanimously concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia as a result of strangulation,” an officer said.
Police sources claimed the three accused admitted during questioning that they were partying, and that “things got out of control”. Police also claimed that the accused “did not realise Hemant had died”, and left Nitin’s home. All of them were under the impression that Hemant was sleeping, police said. It was only when Nitin’s help Bheem Singh came to the room in the morning that he discovered that Hemant was dead.