Police suspect robbery to be the motive behind the killing

A 77-year-old music critic and wife of a former senior journalist was found murdered at her residence in Mayur Vihar Phase-I here on Tuesday. The police suspect robbery to be the motive.

Sarojini Bartwal, a resident of Pocket 4 in Mayur Vihar, was found dead in her DDA flat when one of her part-time domestic helps came to work around 11 a.m.

“When the help came in the morning, she found the door to the house open. She went inside and found Ms. Bartwal lying on the floor of the bedroom with blood oozing out of her nose. She then rushed out to alert the neighbours who then called me up,” said Ms. Bartwal's son Hemendra, a political adviser at the British High Commission.

Mr. Hemedra, a former journalist, then called up his wife Nupur, who works in Noida, asking her to reach the house. “We first thought that she might have fallen from the bed and sustained injury.

It was only on reaching the house that I came to know what had happened,” said Nupur.

The police suspect that she was murdered during robbery. “The house has been ransacked. Robbery seems to be the possible motive. The culprit could be known to the victim as entry to the house seems friendly. It appears that she was smothered to death,” said a senior police officer.

Frequent visitors to the house and the two helps are being questioned.

The family told the police that Ms. Bartwal had also got the house painted a couple of months ago.

The family also suspects the involvement of someone known. “It is only the cupboards in her bedroom and the suitcases which have been ransacked. None of the cupboards in the other two rooms that contained only books was touched. It seems that the assailant knew exactly where he could find cash and valuables,” said Ms. Nupur.

It is suspected that the murder was committed late on Monday evening.

“We used to call her before going to bed everyday. When we called her on Monday night around 9-30 p.m. her phone was switched off. We called her up again in the morning and the phone was still switched off. But we did not get alarmed as she often forgot to charge her phone,” said Ms. Nupur, who along with her family stays in Ghaziabad.

Ms. Bartwal, a former columnist, had been staying alone since the death of her husband B.S. Bartwal, a former journalist with a Hindi daily, three years ago.

Remembering Ms. Bartwal as “very” active for her age, Ms. Nupur said that she was very cautious about the security. “She was very particular not to open the door to strangers. Even if we were to visit her late in the evening, she would open the door only after she was assured about our identity,” said Ms. Nupur.

The cremation will be taken place at Nigambodh Ghat on Wednesday around 2-30 p.m., the family said.