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Man borrows from Saddam book, uses thallium on wife, in-laws

Sharma alleged that in January, Arora cooked fish laced with thallium and served it to his family members. "He didn't eat it himself and didn't feed his twin children either,” a senior police officer said.

Varun and Divya Arora

Inspired by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his intelligence agencies who allegedly used thallium to kill the regime’s political opponents, a 37-year-old real-estate businessman in Delhi allegedly used the toxin to target his wife and in-laws, police said.

On Tuesday night, police arrested Varun Arora, a resident of Greater Kailash, for allegedly killing his mother-in-law. His wife has been in a coma since February, and his sister-in-law died around the same time.

“The incident came to light on March 21 when Devendra Mohan Sharma, 62, a manufacturer of homeopathy medicines, approached police and said that his wife Anita Sharma had died at Ganga Ram hospital and that he suspected his son-in-law Arora of murdering her.

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Sharma alleged that in January, Arora cooked fish laced with thallium and served it to his family members. “He didn’t eat it himself and didn’t feed his twin children either,” a senior police officer said.

Police officials discussed the matter with their seniors at the Delhi Police Headquarters, after which they arranged for Sharma’s medical test to be conducted.

“Investigators were shocked when they found elevated levels of thallium in his blood. They then conducted a post-mortem and a forensic examination of his wife Anita Sharma’s body,” an officer said.

Sources said the forensic experts informed the investigators that Anita also had high thallium levels. Police then lodged an FIR under IPC Section 302 (murder) at Inder Puri police station.

“Police also conducted a medical examination of Sharma’s elder daughter (Arora’s wife, who has been in coma) and in her case too, the thallium levels were high,” a police source said, adding that when Arora was called in for questioning, he did not confess to anything.

On Tuesday evening, police conducted a raid on his house and recovered his laptop. On scanning the device, police said they found web pages related to thallium in his browsing history and many others on Saddam Hussein employing the toxin to eliminate his rivals.

“We also found out that Arora had ordered thallium through an online pharmacist after claiming that he and his father-in-law were making a homeopathy medicine for coronavirus. We tracked the person who delivered the package and he identified Arora,” an officer said.

On the motive for the alleged poisoning, police said that Arora, when questioned the second time, said he wanted to take revenge against his wife and in-laws over an incident that happened around six years ago. “Arora’s father died around that time and soon after, his wife got pregnant. He believed the child would be his father’s reincarnation, but some complications developed and the foetus had to be aborted on the doctor’s advice. Arora was against the abortion, but his wife and her family members went ahead. Arora and his wife later had two children through IVF, and he said her family members taunted him. He then decided to seek revenge,” police said.

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