Sixty-four-year-old Rajrani Karar or her daughter, 39-year-old Ginni did not step out of their flat in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar for six days. For their neighbours, who described the two as “aloof”, this was not unusual.
But on Wednesday, a sharp smell from flat on the first floor in the four-storey building became too persistent to ignore. The police arrived at the spot about an hour later and smashed through a window pane to look into the flat. Rajrani and Ginni, they found, were lying dead in the house, their throats slit.
Residents said that till Wednesday, there was little indication that there was anything unusual.
A resident who did not want to be identified said they hardly spoke to anyone in the building.
Rajrani and her youngest daughter Ginni, who suffers from autism and a speech impediment, lived on the first floor flat. She is survived by two older daughters, who live in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
“There had been a faint smell since Monday. We initially thought there were dead rats. But when the smell turned unbearable on Wednesday afternoon, we discussed it among ourselves before alerting the police,” said Manoj, a resident of the building.
Narender Jain said the residents of the building got the common areas and their apartments checked for dead rats and cleaned before calling the police.
Another resident said the Karars’s house showed signs of life only in the evenings.
“They would order food at night. Ginni’s tutors visited (to help with her speech impairment) around the same time. They even got their house painted in the evening,” the neighbour said, requesting anonymity.
A senior police officer associated with the investigation said the neighbours earlier told Rajrani that “too many people visiting the building at night compromised everyone’s safety”.
The issue was never resolved and the resulting rift meant Rajrani and the rest of the building cut off ties with each other, the officer added.
The murders could have come to light on Sunday, when one of Rajrani’s two older daughters visited the house. “The daughter rang the bell multiple times, but no one responded. So, the daughter, who lives in another neighbourhood in east Delhi, returned home,” said Rohit Meena, deputy commissioner of police (Shahdara).
Police said that the daughter told them that she was not surprised by the lack of response. “Since Rajrani’s relationship with her two older daughters was not cordial, she would often ignore their attempts to visit her,” said the DCP, adding that Rajrani would often go without communicating with them over the phone for several days.
Police said the two daughters were being questioned about the circumstances of the killings.
Officers also said that there was no sign of a permanent house help either, who might have discovered the bodies earlier. “So far, it appears that they hired different people to carry out domestic tasks and frequently changed their employees,” said an investigator.
They said that the flat was “in a mess” when investigators broke in on Wednesday night.
Piles of household items, including medicines, were kept in the drawing room while the utensils remained unwashed in the sink.
Not having fixed workers also meant that their house had too many visitors, drawing the ire of other residents who felt unsafe, police said. “But despite many visitors, there was no one who sensed their absence for six days,” added Meena.