Vijay Dhull, the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh, has transferred the investigation of the gruesome murder of Arundhati Verma to the crime branch.
28-year-old Arundhati, the wife of an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Narendra Verma, was murdered by her in-laws following an altercation. According to the FIR, Narendra’s father hit a sharp axe on her neck and killed her on the spot. The police have arrested both the parents and sent them to jail. Narendra, currently working as a government consultant, has demanded a death sentence for his parents and his younger brother for this heinous crime.
He was dissatisfied with the investigation process and had lodged a complaint to the SP office to transfer the case to the crime branch.
In an interview with Outlook, Dhull has said that since the victim’s husband had certain apprehensions, he decided to transfer the probe to the Crime Branch in the interest of justice and bring the culprits to book.
Narendra Verma has alleged in a complaint to UP Women Commission and Inspector General of Police in Lucknow that he and his wife both had filed multiple complaints to the local police about a threat on their lives from his parents and brother. The most recent was on July 8, just two days before the murder but local police didn’t act at all. Why?
I attended Narendra Verma on August 9 in person and heard all his grievances. I offered him to get the case investigated by anyone with whom he would be satisfied. He himself suggested that the matter should be probed by the Crime Branch so I have transferred it there. The new investigation team will look at the evidence afresh and proceed accordingly.
So far as his complaints regarding police inaction are concerned, it is incorrect. They had family disputes on previous occasions also and police had intervened earlier to pacify both parties. In fact, his father had also filed a complaint with the local police and alleged that both his son and daughter-in-law were causing trouble for him.
What has come to light so far in the investigation?
Till now the investigation has shown that Verma’s parents were unhappy with his marriage as it was a love marriage. They didn’t vibe well with his wife. As all of them were living in one house, they used to have heated arguments and fight on trivial issues.
On the morning of July 10, Verma’s mother and his wife started quarrelling on some small issues as usual. His father, who had left for work, was called back. Narendra Verma had gone for a morning walk. The fight turned ugly and the father attacked Verma’s wife’s neck with an axe. Verma has named his parents and brother in the FIR. We have arrested both the parents and further investigation will reveal what conspired on the day of the murder. As of now, we don’t know the reason for so much provocation that drove him to attack his daughter-in-law. It is heinous crime.
Verma has alleged that the police haven’t arrested the third accused, his younger brother, though they know his whereabouts in Lucknow. Why?
Unless we have very categorical evidence of his brother’s involvement, we can’t arrest and send him to jail. On the day of the murder, his 21-year-old brother was not present at the scene of the crime as he was in Lucknow. Now, when he was not there how can we arrest him? There has to be some circumstantial evidence to act upon against someone. Initially, he had alleged that his brother also attacked his wife along with the father. But now he admits that his brother was not there at the time of the crime. He was in Lucknow pursuing his law degree course.
Verma’s version is that his parents and brother hatched a conspiracy to eliminate his wife and the fight on the morning of July 10 was deliberately started to make it look like the murder took place out of sudden provocation. Does murder committed due to sudden provocation invite lesser punishment than a premeditated one?
Now since the matter has been transferred to the crime branch, the new investigating officer will look at all the pieces of evidence, take the version of all the parties and initiate action that he would deem fit and in accordance with the law.
Verma has also alleged that the local police are trying to cover up the severity of the crime by hiding several facts. For instance, according to him, his parents were arrested from Gomti Nagar in Lucknow but police record shows the arrests were made from the Gola village. Why?
He did share his doubts and apprehensions with me and that’s why I left it to him to choose whosoever he wants to be deputed as the investigating officer. If there is any lapse or cover-up, it will come out and action will be initiated against the previous investigating officer.
The victim's husband has demanded capital punishment for his parents and brother too. Will the police support his demand and pleas for the same in court?
What he wants is one thing and what is given in the law book is another. The police will file the charge sheet against all the accused in the court based on the outcomes of the investigation as per the law. But, as we argue for maximum sentence in all other cases, we will do it in this case as well. We will certainly argue in support of his demand for the highest punishment to his parents. Rest depends on the court whether it awards life imprisonment or capital punishment. T