Bollywood actor Laila Khan's stepfather Parvez Tak has confessed to killing her and her siblings, the Mumbai police claimed on Wednesday. Tak reportedly told the police that he killed Laila's mother, Celina, in a fit of rage and then killed the others as they had witnessed the murder.
Himanshu Roy, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Mumbai, also said that six bodies had been found carefully buried in a pit at the farmhouse owned by Laila in Igatpuri near Mumbai. Detailing the find, Mr Roy said three bodies were placed at the bottom of a 12 feet by eight feet pit, which was about six feet deep. The pit, covered first with mattresses and pillows and then with stone; then, three more bodies were placed and similarly covered and finally, the pit was covered with mud. The stones were used to keep wild animals away, the police said. (Watch Mumbai Police's press conference)
The police believe these are the remains of the starlet and her family, who disappeared in February last year. There is very little clothing left on the skeletal remains, but it is evident that the victims were murdered and buried with jewellery still on the bodies. There is one male body, presumably say the police, that of Laila's brother Imran and five female bodies. The bodies, the top cop said, will be matched against DNA samples from Laila's biological father, Nadir Patel. The identities of the bodies found would be confirmed by the forensic report, the police said.
The police say they have recovered the murder weapons - iron rods and two knives at the farmhouse.
Based on Tak's reported confession, the police have strung together details of what happened to Laila and her family. Tak, who was Celina's third husband, has reportedly told the police that he was insecure about her close relationship with her second husband, a builder, Asif Sheikh. He has reportedly also said that he was upset about the family's plans to move base to Dubai as Laila planned to marry her boyfriend Wafi Khan. Tak does not have a passport and reportedly felt he was being abandoned.
The police say Tak has confessed to murdering Celina at the farmhouse when they got into an argument over her praising Sheikh. Celina had reportedly also transferred power of attorney for disposal of her assets to Sheikh, who had access to her other properties like a flat in Oshiwara. This was a big bone of contention between husband and wife, Tak has allegedly told the police.
Tak has reportedly said that the family had arrived in different groups at the Igatpuri farmhouse, an opulent, picturesque property. There was Tak with Celina, Laila and her two sisters and one brother and a female cousin. Laila, the police said, drove her siblings to the farmhouse in her Mitsubishi Outlander.
The family reportedly had a barbecue on the night of the murders. They played music and danced. It was when they had retired for the night - Tak and Celina to their first floor room - at about 1 am that the two fought.
Tak has reportedly said that the couple came down to the ground floor of the house, where he hit Celina with a blunt object on the head and she died. By this time, the police said, the others had gathered and there was a scuffle. Tak has allegedly said that he called in reinforcement in the person of the Kashmiri watchman Shakir Hussain, who belonged to Kishtwar as Tak does and whom he had appointed only a few months ago.
The police say the deep fractures on the male skeleton found suggest that 25-year-old Imran was neutralized first with iron rods and then the two men killed the women of the family, also with iron rods, and buried them. They then drove one of the family's cars to Jammu, which they abandoned, and which led to their being caught, police said.
It was Tak who led the police to the bodies at the farmhouse. He was arrested a few weeks ago in Jammu in connection with another case, and then taken back to Mumbai by the city police.
"Parvez Tak is a shrewd, cunning and dangerous criminal. But however much you run, you cannot hide. The law will catch up with you and you will be brought to justice," Mr Roy told NDTV.
The police say that while Tak has confessed they are not ruling out other angles for the murders. It is possible, they say, that Tak is trying to prepare a case that the murder of Celina was not premeditated. No one has been declared beyond suspicion yet, Mr Roy said.