Gambling debts and the pressure to repay his lenders led a 29-year-old MS graduate from the University of Glasgow to murder his aunt in Royapettah last Tuesday, the police have said.

The victim, Mehrunnisa (55), a retired RBI employee, was found dead last week, gagged and with her hands and legs tied up, at her second floor house on Devarajan Street. Her body was found by her husband Ali Ahmed, who runs a printing press. The murder had sent shockwaves in the city, coming in the wake of a series of such incidents involving elderly women.

An investigation led by deputy commissioner (Triplicane) Anil Kumar Giri led to prime suspect Shafi Mohammed, an engineering graduate from UK, who is Mehrunnisa’s nephew. “The probe revealed that Shafi was in severe debt due to gambling and had asked Mehrunnisa for Rs. 3 lakh which she had denied. Thereafter, he plotted the murder and robbery along with his aide, Abdul Hameed Fali (27) of Ramanathapuram, who is a BBA graduate,” Commissioner of Police S. George said at a press conference on Monday.

Shafi put up Abdul in a lodge in Triplicane and later the duo came to Mehrunnisa’s house with the former clad in a burqa. Once inside the house, after stating that they were the victim’s son’s friends, Abdul gagged and murdered Mehrunnisa, while Shafi robbed nine sovereigns of gold and Rs. 2.5 lakh cash from an almirah in the house, according to the police investigation report.

“Footage from CCTV cameras at a printing unit on the first floor and a bakery nearby, where the duo had attempted to rob the baker’s mother a few days prior to Mehrunnisa’s murder, proved crucial in identifying the suspects,” Mr. George added.

Shafi and Abdul have been arrested, and the robbed gold and cash recovered from them.

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