Perversion seems to be the motive, say police

The Mumbai police on Friday arrested a fleeing watchman in connection with the murder of 25-year-old lawyer Pallavi Athnu Purkaystha, at her residence at Wadala around 1.30 a.m. on Thursday.

The police picked up Sajjad Ahmed Mughal (22) at the Mumbai Central station late Thursday night, foiling his alleged attempt to flee to Jammu and Kashmir, his native State. Persistent interrogation and the injuries on his person gave him away, the police said, adding Pallavi offered stiff resistance as he sneaked into her house and made “pervert” advances after tampering with power supply, and then killed her. He has been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 449 (house-trespass to commit offence punishable with death) of the Indian Penal Code.

Narrating the sequence of the crime at a press conference here, Mumbai Joint Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said Pallavi, a lawyer with Excel Entertainment Private Limited and daughter of an IAS officer, returned home around 11 p.m. on Wednesday. After she opened the door, she found that electricity supply was disconnected. She summoned an electrician who came immediately and restored power supply. Sajjad was suspected to have accompanied the watchman.

A little later the lights went off again, Sajjad having manipulated the meter box a second time and switched off electricity to Pallavi’s apartment. He stole the house keys kept on a rack near the door when the electrician, who came again, and Pallavi were busy fixing the problem.

Then, “some time after 1.30 am, Sajjad made his way back to Pallavi’s 16{+t}{+h}floor flat. He entered her bedroom. A scuffle ensued and she put up stiff resistance. But he was carrying a knife. He brutally assaulted and murdered her,” Mr. Roy said. Still, she managed to wrench off a clump of hair of the accused and injure him. It was Pallavi’s roommate, Avik Sengupta, who, returning home around 5.30 a.m, found the door ajar and saw her lying in a pool of blood in the living room. After failing to revive her, he alerted the neighbours and the security guards who informed the police.

Meanwhile, Sajjad had allegedly hid the blood-soaked knife, under a shoe-rack on the third floor of the building, changed his clothes and escaped. The murder weapon has been recovered, the police said.