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Religion may have played role in murder of NRI family


Los Angeles : Religion could have played a role in the brutal death of two members of an Indian American family last week, according to court papers.

Jayprakash Dhanak, 56, and his 20-year-old daughter Karishma's badly burned bodies were found last week in a park near the University of California, Irvine. A few hours earlier, Dhanak's wife, Leela, 53, was found severely beaten outside the family's Anaheim Hills home, which had been set ablaze.

It has emerged that Dhanak, who was a Hindu, disapproved of his daughter dating Iftekhar Murtaza, 22, a Muslim, the Los Angeles Times reported.

When police arrested Murtaza last Friday at Phoenix airport they found in his possession a one-way air ticket to Bangladesh.

Murtaza had dated the Dhanak's younger daughter, Shayona, an 18-year-old college student, for about three years, a source close to the investigation, but who was not authorised to speak publicly, told the paper. Shayona had moved out of the Anaheim Hills home and was unharmed.

According to court papers, the young couple had broken up due to family pressure a few weeks before the murders.

Investigators have found records indicating that Murtaza had made calls from his cellphone less than two miles from the crime scene about an hour before the murders, but had told police he was not in Anaheim that day, court records said.

Police investigating the case are still not clear about the exact motive of the attack.