Kitty Kumarmangalam, 70, wife of former Union minister P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, was murdered at her house in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar on Tuesday night, allegedly by her laundryman and his two accomplices, Delhi Police said on Wednesday, after arresting two of the three suspects.
Kitty lived alone in a second floor flat in Vasant Vihar’s A block. Her late husband served as the minister of state for law, justice and company affairs in the PV Narasimha Rao government between 1991 and 1993, and as Union minister for power in the Vajpayee government from 1998 to 2000.
Police identified the two arrested men as Raju Lakhan Kanojia, 24, the laundryman, and Rakesh Kumar Raj, 34, a contractual driver with a central ministry. The third alleged accomplice, Suraj, identified only by his first name, also a driver, is yet to be arrested. Police said robbery was the motive and the plan was hatched just a few hours before the murder.
Accroding to the HT report the three men also strangled Kitty’s domestic help, Mithila,33, with a belt and left the house believing her to be dead after she fell unconscious. After coming back to her senses, Mithila alerted neighbours, who informed the police control room.
Police said prime suspect Kanojia was known to Kitty as he did her laundry for the past five years. He visited the house once every few days to collect clothes.
Around 6.30pm, exactly an hour and forty minutes before the three men entered Kitty’s flat, Raju called his two friends and asked them to join him for drinks. Police investigation shows that Raju reached PVR Priya Market in Vasant Vihar on his scooter, where Rakesh and Suraj joined him. Police have found CCTV footage showing the suspects at the market.
“They bought three bottles of strong beer and drank it. Then, Raju bought a bottle of whisky and drank in a corner of the market. It was during this drinking session that Raju told them about an elderly woman (Kitty), who lived alone in a “posh” flat. He knew she was the wife of a former minister and may have seen the woman open her locker when he went to collect clothes. He said he could pull off the heist by murdering the woman without any resistance. He shared his plan with his friends and they decided to immediately execute it,” said an investigating officer, who asked not to be named.
Around 8pm, the three rode together on Raju’s scooter’s to Kitty’s house. Nobody stopped them on the way. “Everyone in the colony knew Raju; he did the laundry and ironing in most houses there,” said Geeta Ram,74, another laundryman, who irons clothes in a lane near Kitty’s house.
The CCTV camera outside the house shows Raju and his two friends entering the building. “At 8.10pm, Raju rang the doorbell and Mithila opened the door. Mithali told us that on hearing the doorbell, Kitty came out of her bedroom to see two new faces with Raju. She objected and asked Raju about them,” another investigating officer, who spoke to Mithila, said.
Before the two women could raise the alarm, the three suspects overpowered both Kitty and Mithila. Police said Suraj slapped Mithila and took her to one of the bedrooms, where he strangled her with a belt. In the other room of the three-bedroom flat, Raju and Rakesh pinned Kitty to the floor. Suraj, who thought he had killed Mithila, walked in and they used a pillow to smother Kitty. Police later found her on the bedroom floor.
“She must have died on the spot. They ransacked the house, took about ₹2.5 lakh cash, some jewellery and a small safety locker. At 9.10pm, they exited the building, got on the scooter and rode to Nelson Mandela Marg. Hiding in the bushes there, they divided the money (about ₹80,000 each) among them and broke open the locker. They found nothing valuable inside; it only had some papers, which they threw on the road. We have recovered these. Then, they went to their homes,” a third investigator said, requesting anonymity.
Around the same time, police said, Mithila regained consciousness.
Ingit Pratap Singh, deputy commissioner of police(south west), said Mithila called her husband and also alerted the security guards, who informed the police control room at 10.10pm. The neighbours informed Kitty’s daughter, Ruchira, who lives in Gurugram and son R Mohan, who lives in Bengaluru.
“The most independent and powerful woman I knew, the one who taught me right from wrong, who raised me to be who I am, who suffered through my pain, laughed loudest for my joy, loved me unconditionally, left this realm on the date she gave birth to me. 6pm,Lodhi crematorium,” Mohan Kumaramangalam tweeted on Wednesday.
A police team reached the flat and found Kitty unconscious on the floor, and the room ransacked. Police took the two women to Safdarjung hospital, where Kitty was declared brought dead. At the hospital, Mithila told police about what had happened.
“Mithila told us about the laundryman who had come to the flat. Based on her statement, we checked multiple CCTV cameras, spoke to other laundrymen in the area and located Raju’s address in Bhanwar Singh camp in Vasant Vihar. He was arrested. His accomplice was also arrested on Wednesday morning. We have recovered the cash and the stolen locker from Raju’s house,” said DCP Singh.