- She was killed a year ago with her body abandoned in a field in UP
- The accused, in his late 20s, claimed he would marry the teen
- Gold, cash and the victim's mobile phone were found with him
She met him in her hometown of Ludhiana. For a few weeks, he charmed her till the wealthy teen eloped from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh to be with him.
Only Tuesday was it confirmed that the 19-year-old from Punjab, whose family owned a large taxi business, had been murdered a year ago with her body abandoned in a field near Meerut. Her head had been removed; so had her arms; the tattoos on them would have given away her identity.
Mohammed Shaqib, the man in his late 20s, who had claimed he would marry Ekta Jaswal was arrested on Tuesday along with five other members of his family including two women. Gold, cash and the victim's mobile phone were found with Shaqib.
Ms Jaswal's enraged family assaulted Shaqib at a press conference on Tuesday evening in Meerut that had been organized by the police. Later, the police took Shaqib to the spot where Ms Jaswal's head and hands had allegedly been abandoned. The police claims he tried to escape after snatching a cop's revolver and was shot thrice in his legs. He is currently in hospital.
Early last year, the police says, Shaqib persuaded Ms Jaswal to move to Meerut. When he panicked that she was close to discovering who he really was, he killed her, they say. In an act of further depravation, he used her phone to share earlier photos of her on her social media accounts to make it seem like she was alive and well.
"They decapitated her and also severed her hands so that she would not be recognized. She had tattooed the accused's name on her arms. The mobile phone of the girl has been recovered. The accused kept the girl's WhatsApp account activated from her phone and used to keep on changing her display pictures, giving the girl's relatives the false impression that she was alive and well, " said Ajay Sahni, Meerut's police chief.
When a headless female body was discovered in June last year, it took the police several months to figure out that it was that of Ms Jaswal. Cellphone records tipped them off. Teams that travelled then to Punjab sifted through missing person records (Ms Jaswal's family had reported her missing but had not pursued the case). Finally, the police connected the dots. Ms Jaswal's family said they did not approve of her relationship but assumed that she was alive and well because of her social media activity.
The police say Shaqib met Ms Jaswal on frequent visits to Ludhiana where he pretended to be a devout Hindu. A few weeks later, Ms Jaswal left her family home in Ludhiana with cash and family jewelry worth 25 lakhs. After arriving in Meerut, she began living with the man she knew as Aman.
His family and he wanted to grab the cash and jewelry she had brought with her. According to the police, Ms Jaswal was given a cold drink laced with sedatives before she was dragged to a field and killed.