Mukesh Lakhanpal, circulation head of Business World magazine, had earlier claimed that three highway robbers had killed his “wife” Satvinder, when she resisted.
Police, however, found too many loopholes in Lakhanpal’s version of sequence of events and arrested him for hiring contract killers to murder Satvinder.
Police also found that Lakhanpal and Satvinder were not married, as was claimed by him.
Her body was found in the fields off the Delhi-Agra highway, while Lakhanpal was tied to a tree.
He told police that three armed men had cornered him when he stopped to go to the washroom after crossing the toll plaza in Palwal. Lakhanpal said the men tied him up, taped his mouth and pushed him in the boot of the car. Satvinder was tied up and made to sit on the rear seat.
Police were told that the men drove into the fields and tied Lakhanpal to a tree. When Satvinder resisted, police were told, the men dragged her further into the field and killed her.
Investigators grew suspicious of the claims when Lakhanpal was unable to point to them the scene of crime. He also frequently changed the sequence of events and no injury marks were seen on his body.
“He told us that he was punched and scratched in his face by the robbers, but there was no sign of any scuffle. He still had a gold chain on, though he claimed the robbers took everything from him,” a police source said.
According to police, Lakhanpal had been planning the murder for five months. He is divorced and has two children with his ex-wife. Satvinder did not approve of him staying in touch with his wife, so he planned to kill her, police said.
“He took us to three different locations when asked about the scene of crime. He also lied about his marriage with Satvinder,” a police officer said.
Police claimed to have recovered a few documents from Lakhanpal's car, which the killers abandoned after its wheels got stuck in loose mud. Police said a map of the area was found in the car. “The map showed the toll booth, the fields and the entire plan of how and where the car will be intercepted. The killers had done a recce of the area. The entire operation was planned,” the source said.
Police said Lakhanpal told them that he hired the killers for Rs 2.5 lakh. “He said he and Satvinder were living together, but Lakhanpal used to go and meet his first wife also. Satvinder did not approve of this,” a police officer said.
Police are looking for the three contract killers.