Delhi: Decomposing bodies of elderly couple found

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The bodies were found inside the couple’s home. Prem Nath Pandey

Eleven days after a beat officer visited senior citizens Virender and Sarla Khaneja at their East of Kailash residence to inquire about their health, the decomposing bodies of the couple were found under mysterious circumstances at their home Saturday, police said.

The bodies were discovered by the Delhi Police after a distant relative, based in Gurgaon, made a PCR call to report that the couple had not been receiving calls since January 16.

“We received the call at 10:30 am Saturday. The door was locked… It was broken open and the bodies were found on the floor of a bedroom. Prima facie, there are no signs of forced entry. An investigation is underway,” said Chinmoy Biswal, DCP (Southeast), adding that a case has been registered in the matter.

The police are investigating several angles, including murder and suicide. “The woman’s hands were tied but the man’s hands or legs weren’t. We have not recovered any weapons or toxic substances there. The main door of the house has an automatic lock, and the door can be locked from inside and outside,” said a police officer.

The PCR call by the couple’s relative was made at 10:30 am, and the bodies were recovered at 4:30 pm. “When we opened the door, a rotting smell emanated. Prima facie it appears they had died a few days ago, as their bodies were decomposing. An investigation is on, it could also be that they consumed a toxic substance,” said a senior police officer.

Virender (77), who had retired from his private sector job, lived with his wife Sarla (72) in the apartment, said police, adding that they had lost a son in 2017. The couple has another son, Amit Khaneja, who is a doctor in the US. “The couple had gone to the US to visit him a few months ago,” said a neighbour.

Police said they are waiting for Amit to arrive, after which the bodies will be sent for post-mortem.

The police officer hinted at “possible depression due to their son’s death”. According to a neighbour, the elderly couple was fairly active, but mostly kept to themselves. “Uncle regularly went for morning walks, and sometimes he would visit the India Habitat Centre. Aunty used to play cards with other elderly women in the building,” said a neighbour.

The beat officer, who had visited the couple on January 15 to help them out with a water problem, had also paid them a visit on New Year’s Eve with a greeting card, as the two were enrolled with the Senior Citizen Cell of the Delhi Police.

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