A quiet man with a professional attitude is how colleagues and employers described Rohan Dahiya.
“He was a good performer at work, almost never took leave and never argued with seniors,” said one employer at the Gurgaon e-commerce firm where he worked. A colleague who worked under him said he was “efficient and well respected”.
Except, none of them truly knew Rohan Dahiya, because Rohan Dahiya did not exist. Instead, the ideal employee was Raju Gehlot, wanted since 2011 for the murder of his live-in partner Neetu Solanki — a case that had made headlines since the body was dumped in a bag right outside New Delhi Railway Station, and the only clue to the victim’s identity was a peacock feather tattoo on her waist.
Having evaded arrest all these years, police only managed to trace Gehlot a few hours after he died at a Gurgaon hospital of a liver ailment-related organ failure Wednesday.
A visit to his office revealed Gehlot left no stone unturned to forge a new identity — and a new life.
Since September 2017, Gehlot had been working with the e-commerce company in Gurgaon’s Sector 18. “We were all shocked when police told us he was involved in a brutal murder,” said his employer, who did not wish to be identified.
At the time of joining, his employers said, Gehlot had all identification proofs, including an Aadhaar card, PAN, driving licence and Class XII marksheet — all under Rohan Dahiya’s name.
They said the office had a vacancy for a person with a sales background, and Gehlot had told them he had been working with a marketing firm in Gurgaon as a sales person. While there is little clarity on what he did before joining the company, some colleagues recall him talking about having worked in Europe for a while.
In truth, before he was a wanted man, Gehlot did his graduation from College of Vocational Studies in Delhi University. He also did a Masters in Tourism from the same college and later opted for a diploma in French from an institute in South Delhi. He joined Air India as a crew member in 2006 and was given an official accommodation in Air India Colony, Vasant Vihar. When he stopped reporting for work, airline officials locked the house.
At the Gurgaon firm, Gehlot was hired as a sales agent with a salary of around Rs 16,000 per month. Four months ago, he was promoted to the position of an assistant team leader, with a Rs 24,000 per month salary.
His employers said that ever since the promotion, he had been managing a team of about seven people, who would handle international calls for the e-commerce company.
“He usually did evening shifts, from 1 pm to 10 pm, and was always in office on time. His colleagues told us he had almost no social life outside of work,” an employer said.
They added that he would take the public transport to work and always dressed in formals. A peculiar thing, an employer said, was that he didn’t keep a smartphone, but rather an old Nokia mobile phone with a keypad.
An employee working under Gehlot said, “Some people who worked with him earlier said he used to drink a lot. He was efficient and professional at work, and we all respected him… What we learned from the news today has changed our entire perspective.”
When Gehlot fell sick about a week ago, his colleagues pooled in money for his medical bills as they were not able to track down his family, the employer said. They managed to put together around Rs 2 lakh.
A member of Gehlot’s team, who went to visit him in the hospital, said he looked very weak and thin. “The doctor told me to speak to him and I asked him if he remembered me. He murmured yes, and asked for a pen and pad, but was not able to write anything.”
The owner of a PG accommodation in Gurgaon’s Sector 17, where Gehlot had been living for at least a year, said, “We sometimes met while passing by but had limited interaction. He kept a low profile and did not create any nuisance. He used to drink, but not excessively… he gave us his Aadhaar card and filled a police verification form that we keep.”
Gehlot and Solanki lived together at a rented accommodation in Ashram, and he had allegedly killed her after a heated argument. A proclaimed offender, he carried a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head.
Solanki’s body had been found stuffed in a travelling bag outside the New Delhi Railway Station on February 11, 2011, and she had remained unidentified until February 23. Police had only one clue — a peacock feather tattoo on her waist. Her father had eventually approached police after he identified her from photographs. She used to work in the hospitality sector of a private airline.