The Jammu & Kashmir Police on Wednesday said there was no terror angle to the recent murder of Director General of Police (DGP), Prisons, H.K. Lohia, who was found dead in a house in Jammu two days ago.
“No terror angle has emerged during the investigation of the case of murder of H.K Lohia. Interrogation of the accused is in progress. His disclosures are being corroborated with field investigation,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh said.
A poster was posted online by an unknown person claiming that the murder was carried out by a militant outfit. However, the police have ruled out the possibility of militants’ involvement in the murder.
The police have arrested an accused, Yasir Ahmad, resident of Ramban, who worked as a domestic help with the officer. According to the police, CCTV footage collected from the incident site also showed the accused suspect running away after the crime was committed.
“Ahmad was working in this house for nearly six months. Initial investigation reveals that he was quite aggressive in his behaviour and was also depressed. The weapon of offence has been seized besides some documentary evidence reflecting his mental state,” the police said.
The accused’s message, and notes written in his personal diary in which he talks about death, were also indicative of his unusual behaviour, sources said.
The victim’s throat was found slit in a room in a house in Jammu. There was also an attempt to burn the body.
Lohia was a 1992 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He was appointed as DGP, Prisons, J&K, in August 2022.
Lohar's arrest from a field in Kanhachak, around 10 km from the place where the incident happened, followed a major all-night manhunt, the police said in a statement, adding his interrogation was underway.
Officials said that since Lohia had not got accommodation after his posting as Director General (Prisons) in Jammu and Kashmir in August, he was staying at a friend's place in Udaiwala area on the outskirts of the city. Lohar was employed as a domestic help by the friend, who runs an NGO.
According to witnesses in the case which includes Lohia's family members, he was applying oil on his swollen feet inside the room when Lohar entered there and bolted the room from inside.
After a few minutes, commotion was heard from inside the room and the family members and guards attempted to break open the door only to find Lohia bleeding from neck and his body on fire as the domestic help had attempted to burn it using the pillow.
Lohar had vanished from the back door of the house before the family members could enter the room which showed signs of a scuffle and a desperate attempt of the police officer to save himself, officials said, adding a broken ketchup bottle was used to slit the throat of Lohia.
A school dropout, Lohar had left his home in Ramban area two years back and the investigators were now trying to establish his timeline, especially the first 18 months after him vanishing from his village Halla Dhandrath in Ramban area. The officials said finding out his whereabouts during this period is "very crucial for the investigation".
Police, however, said initial investigations did not point towards a terror angle but added that they are probing the case from all angles.
Though a terror group, People's Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), claimed responsibility for the murder, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, who visited the crime scene, told reporters "these terror groups shamelessly own everything and anything".
"There was no clue which suggested involvement of any terror group. For the time being, the terror angle is ruled out but if, during investigation, such a thing comes to light, we will see to it," he said.
Terming the murder an unfortunate incident, the police chief said the force has got relevant clues from the scene which indicate that the accused had a history of aggressive behaviour.
He said the suspect had bolted the room from inside when the DGP (prisons) was rubbing balm on his foot.
The domestic help repeatedly attacked him with a sharp object and even threw a burning pillow towards him in an apparent bid to set the body ablaze.
Lohia, who was promoted and appointed as Director General of Prisons in the Union Territory in August, had shifted to his friend's house only a few days back.
Additional Director General of Police, Mukesh Singh said, "In a major manhunt launched by the Jammu and Kashmir police throughout the night, the accused involved in murder case of the DG prisons has been apprehended. Interrogation of the accused has started."
The official said raids were conducted by special teams at different places including the domestic help's home town in Halla-Dhandrath village in Ramban district where some persons including his fiancée were detained for questioning.
The ADGP said the CCTV footage collected from the incident site showed the accused running away after committing the crime.
"Lohar was working in this house for nearly six months…Initial investigation revealed that he was quite aggressive in his behaviour and was also under depression,” he said.
"A thorough probe is on to rule out any possibility (of terror angle). The weapon of offence has been seized besides some documentary evidence reflecting his (domestic help's) mental state," he said.
Officials said the body of the deceased officer was shifted to the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital Jammu for a postmortem and it will be cremated with full honours here on Wednesday.
He is survived by his wife, who was in the same house when the unfortunate incident took place, a daughter and a son, who he was planning to get married in December.
Sharing some pages from the diary of the accused, a police official said Lohar, a school dropout, was apparently fed up with his life.
The domestic help wrote in his diary that he was 99% sad but wearing a 100% 'fake smile'.
"I am 10% happy, having 0% love in life and 90% tension in life. I hate my life which only gives pain and waiting for death to restart my life," he wrote in the diary.
The official said the accused admitted to his involvement in the murder and his interrogation is on to unravel the motive behind this heinous crime.
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha expressed shock and grief over the murder.
"Shri Hemant Lohia was an outstanding Police officer and a great human being. He served the country with great honour & dedication. Shocked and deeply grieved at his sad demise. My condolences to the bereaved family and friends," the Lt Governor said in a tweet.
(With PTI inputs)