Gandhi's mother Champaben, 78, who was seriously injured in the incident, was also to be eliminated, but survived as the assailant assumed her to be dead.
The help, Ramchandra Ganpat Gomane, 23, hails from Chiplun in Ratnagiri and had been working for the Gandhis since the past seven years. He was arrested on Tuesday morning. The police have also arrested Rupal Gandhi, 44, wife of the complaint and the deceased's brother, Deepak, who the police say was unaware of his spouse's intent.
According to senior police inspector Sanjay Diwadkar of Gamdevi police station, Deepak, who stays on the third floor of the building, visited his mother's flat on Sunday at around 11pm, but when he found the safety door locked but the main door ajar, he sensed something amiss.
Deepak went to his house to fetch a duplicate key and on opening the door found his sister and mother lying on the floor in the passage between the hall and bedroom.
The police was informed and the injured were rushed to the hospital. While Gandhi was declared dead on arrival and her body sent to JJ hospital for postmortem, her mother was admitted to the ICU at Breach Candy Hospital.
Explaining the motive and the sequence of events, deputy commissioner of police (zone II) Anil Kumbhare said, "Around seven months ago, Gomane had taken a loan of Rs30,000 from Rupal for his marriage. He had managed to return Rs7,000, but was unable to repay the rest. Rupal had since been threatening to file a police case against him."
He added that Rupal took advantage of Gomane's inability to repay and assigned him the task of eliminating her relatives.
"Rupal offered to waive off the remaining loan and paid him another Rs5,000 on November 11. She ordered Gomane to commit the crime on Sunday as the family was going out in the afternoon, and would return only at night," Kumbhare said.
"At around 4pm, Gomane rang the doorbell, which was answered by Ila. Soon after being let in, he strangled Ila to death, and pushed Champaben to the door, who fell unconscious. Assuming that both were dead, Gomane fled the spot," said assistant police commissioner Ashok Ingole.
"It has been learnt that Ila's 2BHK flat is what had tempted Rupal. She was arrested on Tuesday evening on charges of criminal conspiracy, and will be produced before the court on Wednesday," said Kumbhare.
The police learnt about Gomane's involvement through Champaben. "She named Gomane in her statement to the police while in hospital. We arrested Gomane, and he has admitted to the crime. He has been remanded to 10 days in police custody by the court. To avoid suspicion, Gomane had not fled the city."
"We have sought documents from the housing society and Deepak to ascertain who would have benefited from the death of the elderly women," said another police official.
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