New Delhi: Kitty Kumaramangalam, the wife of the late Union minister P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, was smothered to death during an attempted robbery at her home in southwest Delhi's Vasant Vihar, police said on Wednesday.
The 67-year-old lawyer had been living alone since the demise of her husband a few years ago, with her daughter Ruchira often staying with her, they said.
The police said they suspect the killing was the fallout of a robbery bid. They also said they have arrested a 24-year-old washerman of the area, identified as Raju, and his 34-year-old associate Rakesh Raj, a resident of Munirka and a driver working in the Ministry of External Affairs on contract basis.
The accused entered the house without any resistance as Raju has been known to the family.
Raju has been visiting the house for over five years now and was aware where valuables, including cash, jewellery and essential bank documents, were kept. So, he hatched the conspiracy and roped in his two associates Rakesh and Suraj to execute the robbery, according to the police.
Based on preliminary investigation, it is suspected that the washerman had come to the house around 9 pm on Tuesday night, and when the house help opened the door, he overpowered her, dragged her to a room and restrained her.
He also tried to loot her ring. During the process, she was also beaten up and sustained bruises on her neck, knees and face, they said.
Rakesh and Suraj entered the house in the meantime and smothered Kumaramangalam with a pillow, the police said.
The house help, Mithila, later managed to raise an alarm.
She immediately called her husband and brother-in-law and informed them about the incident. They reached the spot and took Mithila to Safdarjung Hospital.
Her brother-in-law then made a PCR call, a senior police officer said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Ingit Pratap Singh said, "We received a PCR call at around 11pm on Tuesday. Teams were formed and the washerman was arrested from his residence. Based on his disclosure, one of his associates, Rakesh Raj, has also been arrested while our teams are working to nab the third accused in the case.
During interrogation, Rakesh disclosed that Raju had tried to smother Mithila as well but since she kept moving too much and they wanted to flee as soon as possible so she was left alive.
Police said they also found opened briefcases at the scene of the crime which suggest that the motive was attempted robbery.
In her statement, Mithila said the accused took away valuables in two-three bags.
One of the bags stuffed with clothes was recovered from Raju, the officer said, adding that Rs 60,000 in cash was seized from Rakesh.
Investigation revealed that accused Raju and Suraj have been friends of eight years. However, Raju became a close friend of Rakesh during the lockdown last year and Rs. 60,000 was allotted to Rakesh for task, police said.
The deceased was not enrolled as a senior citizen with the Delhi Police, they said adding her daughter Ruchira used to often stay with her while her son R Mohan Kumaramangalam, who is active in politics, used to also live with her during his stay in Delhi.
The body has been handed over to the family after post-mortem, they said.
P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam served as a Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government between 1998 and 2001.