Kottayam: A 55-year-old woman was killed and her husband seriously injured by unidentified men during a suspected robbery attempt at their residence at Thazhathangadi in Kottayam district. The incident came to light on Monday evening when the neighbours smelled LPG leak from their house and alerted the police.
The husband was admitted to the Kottayam Medical College almost eight hours after the incident.
The deceased has been identified as Sheeba, 55, of Shaani Manzil, a roadside house in Parappadath, Thazhathangadi. The condition of her husband, Mohammad Salih, 60, is said to be critical.
The police said the crime happened during a robbery attempt. The Wagon R car owned by the victims has been stolen, they said.
The police are yet to ascertain if anything else has been taken from the house.
The couple's hands were tied together and their feet were also tied with electric cables. The cooking gas cylinder was left open.
Preliminary investigations suggest the murder happened around 9 am, district police chief G Jayadev said.
The police suspect that Salih was attacked first. Sheeba's body was found near the front door.
The attackers may have subdued the couple as soon as they entered the house, the police said.
There are indications that the attackers administered Sheeba an electric shock through an iron rod wrapped on her hand. This must have been an attempt to destroy evidence, the police said.
They suspect the crime was committed by someone who knew that the couple stayed alone.
The police found chairs and a teapoy broken. The almirah was found open and its contents were strewn on the ground, the police said.
The couple were likely attacked with the teapoy, causing injuries to their heads, they said.
The police are questioning Salih's acquaintances. They sealed the house after nightfall on Monday. Scientific authorities, a forensic team and a dog squad will inspect the house on Tuesday, the police said.
They are trying to locate the stolen car. The checking at checkposts and at the borders have been intensified. They are also combing Kottayam and nearby railway stations.
The police are hoping for Salih's recovery to get details about the attackers. Salih, who ran a tea shop at the Nagambadam bus stand, underwent a surgery late on Monday night.
Salih was suffering from a damage to a nerve on his head. He had undergone a surgery but lost complete vision in one eye and was left with partial vision in the other, relatives said.
They said Salih's ancestral house is near the Pallipuram temple, but he has been living in Thazhathangadi for many years.
The incident came to light in the evening around 3 pm when Farid Khan, who stays in the area, came to ask Salih if the house behind Shaani Manzil was available for rent.
He said he found the gate open and the car parked in front of the house missing. He also smelled the LPG gas.
He tried calling the couple on their phones, but they did not answer. He then decided to call the fire-fighting team, Khan said.
Meanwhile, the couple's daughter Shaani, who lives in Muscat, had called her relatives to inform them that her parents were not answering her calls. The relatives also reached the house in the evening, the police said.
A fire-fighting team arrived around 5pm and broke open the house. Sheeba and Salih were found drenched in blood. While Sheeba was found dead, Salih was admitted to the medical college almost eight hours after the crime.
The investigations are being led by a team that includes DySP R Sreekumar, house officer M J Arun and sub-inspector T Srijith.
MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan has demanded a special team be formed to investigate the crime. MP Thomas Chazhikadan said the Indian embassy has been contacted to bring Salih's daughter Shaani home from Muscat.