A former journalist, Rekha Duggal, was found murdered at her Greater Kailash-II residence here on Monday night.
According to the police, 82-year-old Duggal was allegedly strangulated by her domestic help, Neeraj, who later also set her body on fire.
The police are investigating robbery as a motive as Ms. Duggal’s daughter had visited her on Sunday and given her mother Rs.5 lakh for her expenses.
On Monday night, Neeraj told Ms. Duggal’s neighbour Saroj Prakash that she had gone out for a walk in the evening and not returned. Ms. Prakash in turn called up Ms. Duggal’s son-in-law Manmohan and informed him about it.
Mr. Manmohan said: “I immediately left my Press Enclave house and reached there. We also informed the police on the way. When I reached, a constable was already there. We gave him my mother-in-law’s photographs to check in the parks. All this while, Neeraj claimed he had checked the house, terrace and parks and did not find her anywhere,” said Mr. Manmohan.
Meanwhile, Sadhana, the victim’s daughter, went to the first floor and opened the house with her set of keys. “When I opened the door the room was filled with smoke. The fire brigade was also called in. After 45 minutes, when the smoke lifted, we saw my mother lying on the bed in the third room, slightly charred with a dupatta around her neck,” said Sadhana.
A police officer said the body had turned stiff and it was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for post-mortem. The initial autopsy report found that Ms. Duggal was strangulated, he added.
Neeraj was present in the house and pretended to be calm all the time. He was later picked up by the police along with one Bhuvan, the cook.
Neeraj and Bhuvan were hired around eight months ago through a family friend.
Ms. Duggal lived on the ground floor while she had gifted the first floor to her daughter Sadhana who lives in Press Enclave. The second floor was sold to a builder, while the third floor of the house is rented out to a foreigner. Her husband K.K. Duggal, who died in 2005, was the Editor of United News of India.