Pendant of murdered woman leads Assam police to killer's doorsteps; Army Lt Col arrested

The police had recovered the body of the woman, reportedly in her thirties, near National Highway 31 at Changchari, 23 km from Guwahati, on the morning of February 15.

Published: 25th February 2023 09:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2023 10:11 PM   |  A+A-

Victim's pendant.

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The pendant of a murder victim lead the Assam police to the doors of the killer, a senior army officer.

Police arrested Lt Col AS Walia, the Defence public relations officer attached to the Army’s 4 Corps headquarters in Tezpur of Assam’s Sonitpur district on charges of murdering a married woman, identified as Vandhana Shree. The victim was a native of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Walia and the woman, the mother of a four-year-old daughter, were in a relationship. Walia had served in Tamil Nadu.

The police had recovered the body of the woman, reportedly in her thirties, near National Highway 31 at Changchari, 23 km from Guwahati, on the morning of February 15. The body was wrapped in a big plastic bag and dumped in Kamrup’s Changsari.

Director General of Police (DGP) GP Singh had entrusted Deputy Inspector General (central-western range) Brajenjit Singha to supervise the investigation into the murder case.

About the pendant, Brajenjit Singha told The New Indian Express that an image of a goddess was engraved on the pendant. The investigation spun in the direction of the pendant. 

"We turned to the internet to find out more about the goddess, Singha said and added, "We discovered that it was the image of Ma Linga Bhairavi of a temple in Coimbatore in Western Tamil Nadu. I sent an email to the temple authority after identifying myself and informing about the urgency of the matter. I attached photos of the pendant and the woman. Three days later, the temple authority replied with the details of the woman, including her photograph, a mobile phone number and residential address, stating that probably the victim was the woman in the photograph who used to visit the temple."

Singha said when the police rang up the number, a man responded to the call and confirmed that he is Vandhana Shree's father. He told the police that his daughter had left for Varanasi a few days ago along with her four-year-old daughter.

“After examining her phone call details, we learnt she indeed was in Varanasi. From there, she went to Delhi before travelling to Guwahati by Rajdhani Express. She arrived in Guwahati at 7.20 pm on February 14. Before her arrival, she spoke to Walia over the phone. He later received her upon her arrival in Guwahati," Singha said.

The police suspected that the body of the woman was dumped at the site after 1.30 am on February 15 as police personnel were deployed at the site till that time that night. 

Singha said after murdering the woman, Walia took the child to Kolkata by train, abandoned her at the Howrah railway station and returned to Assam. This has been confirmed by CCTV footage. 

The Assam police rescued the child and brought her to Guwahati. Her grandfather, who came down from Chennai upon hearing about his daughter's death, has taken custody of the child.

Walia told the police he had a fight with the woman following which he murdered her in a fit of rage. He apparently strangled her to death, although police are yet to ascertain how he murdered her. Meanwhile, the police are not willing to buy all that he has to say. 

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