- Anwar was arrested in 2017 for allegedly molesting a minor girl
- The bodies of Mala and her help were found with 18 stab injures each
- The three accused have confessed to the crime
She wound up a long conversation with her sister, saying she would call back after watching "Bigg Boss" but that was never to be. About an hour later, fashion designer Mala Lakhani was killed, allegedly by her tailor who she had helped get out of jail, her sister Aarti Sharma said on Friday.
Standing outside the Safdarjung Hospital mortuary to claim the body of her 53-year-old sister, who was found brutally stabbed to death along with her domestic help Bahadur in her bungalow in upscale Vasant Kunj Enclave in the early hours of Thursday, Aarti was inconsolable.
"I had spoken to her at around 8.15 pm (on Wednesday). I spoke to her again and we ended up talking till 9.50 pm. She wanted to speak to my daughter but later said she will call us after 'Bigg Boss' gets over. But she never called back," Aarti told PTI.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the murder -- Mala's master tailor Rahul Anwar, 24, his cousin Rahmat, 24, and his friend Wasim, 25.
It was 'Meenu', as Mala was known in her family, who helped get Rahul out of jail when he was arrested for molestation, Aarti murmured, almost as if talking to herself.
Anwar was arrested in 2017 for allegedly molesting a minor girl in Rangpuri Pahari area, police said.
"She would always say that Anwar is like my 'bachcha'," Aarti said.
It is hard to believe that Rahul stabbed her so brutally and did not even spare her face, Aarti said, standing outside the hospital with her husband Rahul Sharma, the first person to see the bodies with multiple stab injuries in the workshop of the sprawling home.
The bodies of Mala, who ran a boutique called Tulsi Creations in Green Park, and 50-year-old Bahadur, a Nepalese national, were found with at least 18 stab injuries each.
After the killings, allegedly following a long-standing dispute over unpaid dues, the accused looted jewellery worth lakhs of rupees and ransacked the house, police said, estimating that the incident took place between 10 pm and 11.30 pm on Wednesday.
Around 2.45 am on Thursday, the three men went to the police station to confess to the crime.
"They had even inflicted stab injuries on her face and it was hard to recognise her. She was very conscious about her appearance but look what they did to her... Bahadur's intestines were visible. The workshop where the murders took place had blood splattered all over the floor," Rahul Sharma told PTI.
The Lakhani family -- Mala's two sisters Deepika and Aarti and her brother Gope -- were waiting at the mortuary along with a host of relatives and friends.
Rahul Sharma said Mala had even bought Anwar a motorcycle so he could commute to work.
Aarti also ran a boutique.
About a year ago, Anwar visited her boutique to ask for work and did not inform her that he worked with her sister.
"I only learnt about it recently when one of my employees told me. I had never met Anwar in person before," she said.
She said she was aware about the monetary dispute between her sister and Anwar and had discussed it in detail with Mala.
"Anwar wanted extra money for every cloth he stitched. They wanted some Rs 50 extra per piece for stitching. Since it was a meagre amount, we would have sorted it. We had never thought they would hatch a conspiracy to kill her over it.
In fact, it was Anwar who told police about Aarti and her boutique.
"That's how police contacted me to inform me about the incident," she said.
The sisters had planned to meet on Sunday but an unexpected visit from a relative meant that they could not.
"Meenu's winter clothes had been kept in a cupboard in the storeroom where Bahadur used to sleep. The storeroom was next to the workshop where the incident happened.
"She was opening those cupboards on Wednesday to take out her things. Anwar must have thought she had kept cash in those cupboards, which is why they ransacked that room after killing Meenu and Bahadur," Aarti said.
Police informed the family that the three accused allegedly searched Bahadur's room for money and were expecting to get Rs 30 lakh-40 lakh but did not find any cash.
"I would speak to Meenu at least four times in a day and we met once a week," she said.
The family would caution Lakhani against keeping so many people in her house since she lived alone but she would always say, "my home is my mandir".
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