Late on Friday evening, when Harni police station found a woman’s blood-soaked body next to her two-wheeler on a deserted patch of the New VIP Road in Vadodara after an “accident”, the officers suspected foul play instantly.
With no witnesses in-sight, the police relied on its first inspection of the “floor space” of the accident scene and found no blood spilt on to the ground. On Friday morning, within hours of the crime, the police apprehended her husband for the alleged murder.
The victim, Shilpa Patel (39), was a staff nurse at the Institute of Mental Health in Karelibaug in Vadodara, but was serving as a deputed staff nurse at the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS)-run Gotri Covid-19 ward for the last few months.
On Friday evening, Shilpa left her house at Ajwa Road around 7 pm, as usual on her two-wheeler, to report for her Covid-19 ward duty by 8pm, police said. On the way, as she reached New VIP Road, her husband, Jayesh Patel (40), accosted her after having followed her in his car, police added.
He forced her to park the two-wheeler on a deserted sidewalk and forced her to sit in the car, police said, adding that from there, he drove out of the city limits to isolated open ground.
The couple allegedly had a heated argument about Jayesh’s extra-marital affair, police said, following which the accused pulled out a heavy paddle (bat), used to wash clothes, and smashed the back of Shilpa’s head, police said in a statement.
When she fell unconscious and started to bleed, Jayesh also tried to strangulate her, police said.
He immediately pulled her back into the car and drove back to where the two-wheeler was parked. He threw her body out in such a way that it would appear like a two-wheeler accident, police added.
In-charge Police Inspector for Harni, PD Parmar, told The Sunday Express that the police were not convinced about the crime scene being untampered.
Parmar said, “The accused tried to cleverly pass it off as an accident by hitting her on the head and turning the two-wheeler on its side and lightly dragging her body a bit far away to make it appear like a head injury due to an accident. But he made a mistake because when we examined the floor of the crime scene, under the victim’s body we found no blood. In such a case of heavy bleeding from the head, the blood ought to have flown out onto the sidewalk where the body was found. The floor space was clean, hinting that the body has been placed there. When we examined the injury, we also saw two cuts, which could have been caused by the impact of the paddle. In case of accidents, the head injury is not accompanied by such kind of cuts.”
The police then called in the family and suspected the husband when they learnt through statements of neighbours that there was marital discord due to an ongoing affair of the husband.
“Once we took him in for questioning, he broke down. We have booked him for culpable homicide amounting to murder under IPC section 302. He will be formally arrested after a Covid-19 test,” Parmar said.
Jayesh and Shilpa had been married for close to 15 years and have two children.