Mystery shrouds Delhi woman journalist’s murder (Lead)

October 1st, 2008 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) A day after a 25-year-old woman journalist with a TV channel was found shot dead in her car near her south Delhi home, police were Wednesday struggling to reconstruct the sequence of events and largely banking on forensic reports to crack the mystery.The motive of the cold-blooded murder was not clear till late Wednesday and many unsubstantiated theories of the murder floated around. No eyewitness has approached the police either. However, motive of robbery has been ruled out.

“We still have no clue how Saumya Vishwanathan was killed. We have sent her car to the forensic laboratory for examination. Their report would largely help in constructing the scene of crime,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi) H.G.S. Dhaliwal told reporters.

“It seems that there is no bullet in the tyre of the car. But inspection of the car suggests one bullet hole in the front registration number plate,” he said.

Vishwanathan, who was working with the production department of the Headlines Today news channel, was found dead in her white Maruti Suzuki Zen car on the Nelson Mandela Road in the Vasant Kunj area around 3.30 a.m. Tuesday. She was returning from work to her home in Sector-C of Vasant Kunj.

The police said she left her Jhandewalan office at 3.03 a.m. and called up her father M.K. Vishwanathan around 3.15 a.m. It was a short duration call and she apparently told her father that she would reach home in a few minutes.

Dhaliwal said it seemed Saumya then drove her car some distance before she met with an accident sometime around 3.35 a.m. Initially police believed it was a case of accident.

An employee of Punjabi By Nature, an eatery, who was returning home on his cycle saw around 3.45 a.m. that a woman was lying in the car and its headlights and ignition were on.

He stopped one or two vehicles and the people gathered there called the Police Control Room. A police vehicle rushed her to the Trauma Centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where doctors pronounced her dead around 4.10 a.m.

Her father and brother-in-law Vikas Mehta also reached the hospital.

According to the first information report (FIR), a copy of which is with IANS, Saumya Vishwanathan could have been alive on way to the hospital.

The doctors during her post-mortem examination found a bullet, fired from a .315 bore country-made pistol, in her right skull that took her life.

The FIR further states that her mobile phone and wallet were found intact in the car and were handed over to the family.

Police are not clear about the sequence of events leading to her death.

The police team, which inspected the spot and the car, said in the FIR: “The right tyre was burst and (the) rim was heavily damaged. There were many skid marks on the road and glass at the driver side was also damaged.

“There were blood marks at many places in the car and there were some hairs at the back seat. Photographs were taken and after an examination by the crime team car was removed from the spot for smooth movement of traffic on the road,” the FIR states.

Some blue paint marks were also found on the bonnet of the car as well as at the back door behind the driver seat. But the presence of the paint at the site of accident has made the investigations process more complex.

“The paint could have been there before the accident. It may have come as the car was rammed into the divider or it might have come from another vehicle due to rubbing. We really cannot comment on this,” Dhaliwal said.

“We also don’t know if she was accompanied by any one in the car. But it seems that she was alone. At present, we cannot comment whether the bullet was fired at her while she was driving or after she met an accident. A total of two rounds were fired. One bullet was fired from the front while the other was fired at her from the right side of the car,” he said.

The police were also not sure whether the assailants were on a motorbike or a car. “We cannot say whether it was a case of road rage or personal enmity. The matter is being probed from all possible angles,” Dhaliwal said.

Police sources, however, said they were scrutinising her mobile call details that might throw some light on the case.

The Special Investigation Team of south Delhi district joined in the probe by the Vasant Kunj police station officials.

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