Jammu: The sensational murder of Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (Prisons) Hemant Kumar Lohia was solved within hours as his 23-year-old domestic help, the main suspect, was arrested here on Tuesday, police said.
The murder of the 1992-batch officer late Monday night at his friend’s house at a time when Union Home Minister Amit Shah was on a three-day tour sent shockwaves with political parties targeting the BJP over the “growing (sense of) insecurity” and demanded a high-level probe into the incident.
Yasir Lohar’s arrest from a field in Kanhachak, around 10 km from the place where the incident happened, followed a major all-night manhunt, the police said in a statement, adding his interrogation was underway.
The DG (prisons) was found dead on Monday night at his friend’s house on the outskirts of Jammu, with burn injuries on his body and his throat slit.
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Police said initial investigations did not point towards a terror angle.
Though a terror group, People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), claimed responsibility for the murder, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, who visited the crime scene, told reporters “these terror groups shamelessly own everything and anything”.
“There was no clue which suggested involvement of any terror group. For the time being, the terror angle is ruled out but if, during investigation, such a thing comes to light, we will see to it,” he said.
Terming the murder an unfortunate incident, the police chief said the force has got relevant clues from the scene which indicate that the accused had a history of aggressive behaviour.
He said the suspect had bolted the room from inside when the DGP (prisons) was rubbing balm on his foot.
The domestic help repeatedly attacked him with a sharp object and even threw a burning pillow towards him in an apparent bid to set ablaze the body of the victim.
The 57-year-old Lohia, who was promoted and appointed as Director General of Prisons in the Union Territory in August, had shifted to his friend’s house only a few days back.
Additional Director General of Police, Mukesh Singh said, “In a major manhunt launched by the Jammu and Kashmir police throughout the night, the accused involved in murder case of the DG prisons has been apprehended. Interrogation of the accused has started.” Earlier, the ADGP had said that preliminary examination of the crime scene indicated that Lohia must have been applying some oil on his foot which showed swelling.
The killer suffocated Lohia to death and also used a broken ketchup bottle to slit his throat and later tried to set the body afire, he said.
The guards present at the residence of the officer saw fire inside his room and broke open the door, the ADGP said.
The officials said raids were conducted by special teams at different places including the domestic help’s home town in Halla-Dhandrath village in Ramban district where some persons including his fiancee were detained for questioning.
The ADGP said the CCTV footage collected from the incident site showed the accused running away after the commission of the crime.
“Lohar was working in this house for nearly six months…Initial investigation revealed that he was quite aggressive in his behaviour and was also under depression,” he said.
“A thorough probe is on to rule out any possibility (of terror angle). The weapon of offence has been seized besides some documentary evidence reflecting his (domestic help’s) mental state,” he said.
Officials said the body of the deceased officer was shifted to the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital Jammu for a postmortem and it will be cremated with full honours here on Wednesday.
Sharing some pages from the diary of the accused, a police official said Lohar, a school dropout, was apparently fed up with his life.
The domestic help wrote in his diary that he was 99 percent sad but wearing a 100 percent ‘fake smile’.
“I am 10 percent happy, having zero percent love in life and 90 percent tension in life. I hate my life which only gives pain and waiting for death to restart my life,” he wrote in the diary.
The official said the accused admitted to his involvement in the murder and his interrogation is on to unravel the motive behind this henious crime.
“The police is looking from all angles. The accused had left his house two years back and was working as a cook at this house for the last six months,” he said.
Condemning the murder of the officer, J&K Congress chief Wikar Rasool Wani said the insecurity has increased manifold in Jammu and Kashmir which can be guaged by the spurt in targeted killings by terrorists in the valley.
“Shah (Home Minister) on the floor of the house (parliament) on August 5, 2019 talked about a new beginning and rooting out of terrorism and separatism. A DG-level officer is murdered, a terrorist group is claiming responsibility…if a DG-level officer is not safe, how are the ordinary citizens safe in J&K,” Wani told reporters here.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed Lohia;s killing unfortunate and asked the Jammu and Kashmir police and government to ensure an indepth probe is conducted professionally and all links associated with the murder are unearthed.
“The incident shows deteriorating law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir where even senior police officers are unsafe, what to talk of common masses,” the party said in a statement.
“So sad to hear about the tragic murder of Hemant Lohia. He was a fine gentleman and a professional police officer. My heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace. #HemantLohia,” National Conference leader Nasir Aslam Wani (Sogami) wrote on Twitter.
Senior vice president of Apni Party and former minister Ghulam Hassan Mir described Lohia as a charming personality.
“I recall his meeting on Republic Day at Srinagar. What a charming personality. Miss him very much. RIP,” Mir said in a tweet.
“Deeply saddened by the tragic demise of Shri Hemant Lohia IPS, Director General (Prisons) @JmuKmrPolice. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues,” Srinagar Mayor and Apni Party spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu tweeted.