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Woman’s family rebuts police theory, say husband behind murder

By Sahil Makkar


New Delhi : She had a foreboding she would be killed by her husband, say the parents of Archana Grover, found strangled to death in her south Delhi apartment only eight days after she filed a complaint of domestic violence.

The family is challenging police claims that only the maid was involved in the murder and alleging that their son-in-law, documentary filmmaker Pankaj Rakesh, could also have a hand. Police say Rakesh was not in town on the day of murder but they are probing "various angles".

Archana, the mother of two children, was found strangulated in her third floor Saket apartment on the afternoon of May 16 – exactly eight days after she filed a police complaint against her husband.

Though police arrested her domestic help, Rakhi Saha alias Malati Mandal, Sunday and she has reportedly confessed to the murder, her family refuses to accept the story.

They believe that Rakhi, even if she was guilty, could not have been the only one to kill their daughter – while the children were in another room – and say their son-in-law was the main culprit.

"It must be him (Pankaj Rakesh) who killed our daughter. Archana had filed a case of domestic violence against him barely a few days before her murder," her grieving father Somnath Grover told IANS.

The dead woman had filed a complaint with south district police's women cell in Amar Colony May 8 stating that she was facing threats from her husband, who had broken into her house with a duplicate key in her absence. Rakesh also allegedly removed some of his belongings from the house.

The couple had been estranged for some time and Rakesh used to be away for long periods, Grover said.

"My daughter had asked him to leave her house after he repeatedly thrashed her over trifle issues. A few months ago, he even broke her jaw," he said.

"Archana was scared and wanted to stay away from him. She became more tense after Rakesh filed a counter complaint against her on May 9. The couple had been called by police on May 18 to settle the matter. She had told me she would be killed by her husband and in-laws," Somnath added.

"It's not possible that Rakhi alone killed our daughter. Police are covering up the case."

Archana had even appealed to a lawyer friend for help.

"Archana sent me a mobile message the morning she was killed and said she feared for her life. I immediately asked Archana to calm down. Who knew she would be killed in another three or four hours?

"I advised Archana to file a divorce case but she refused and said she didn't want divorce for the sake of her two children, 12-year-old Keshav and eight-year-old Jahnvi. She was a caring woman," the lawyer added.

But police feel differently.

Officials said Rakhi killed her employer because she scolded her often and did not allow her to mix with other domestics working in the locality.

"Rakhi has confessed to the crime. She said she used to get very angry whenever Archana scolded her for talking to a particular person, Raju, who also works as a domestic help in the building," said a senior official.

He added that on May 16, Archana had a cervical attack resulting in dizzy spells.

"Her children gave her medicines and were sitting with her. When her pain subsided by afternoon, she asked her children to go and study. The maid told the children that she would give Archana a bath, so they would not come towards her room. Rakhi then strangulated her"

According to the official, the kids went to the computer room. A few minutes later, the maid entered the computer room and picked her bags. She immediately left the house for her native place in West Bengal.

"How can her husband kill her when he was not present in Delhi on the day? He was in Pune.

"We are still investigating the case from various angles. If he is found guilty, he will not be spared," he added.