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Part 2

The Inside Story
A former cellphone technician, Arvind Gupta (23), was arrested by the Mumbai crime branch early on Thursday from Howrah station, West Bengal, for the brutal murder of Malad homemaker Shagufta Khan (37) and robbery. Investigators said Khan's older daughter, who saw Gupta emerge from her mother's bedroom after the killing, was at grave risk as the accused did not want to leave any evidence. But the teenager used her presence of mind and locked herself up in an adjacent bedroom. Her father told TOI she is traumatized and will be taken for counselling soon.

Gupta told sleuths the plot to kill Khan was hatched at his girlfriend's hometown in Bangladesh in early November. "In September, Gupta sneaked into Bangladesh from Howrah with the help of an agent and stayed there with his girlfriend for a month," said ACP Sunil Deshmukh. "Gupta wanted to marry her, but she often asked him how he would make ends meet without a job. He desperately wanted to make a lot of money in the shortest possible time and settle in Bangladesh," Deshmukh said.

Gupta returned to Mumbai on November 8 and resumed work at a mobile store in Goregaon. He often visited Khan's home in Rustomjee Riviera, Malad, to deliver handsets and accept payments. On November 11, he reached Khan's building at 3pm. In the next seven minutes, he took the elevator upstairs, killed Khan and stashed jewellery worth Rs 70 lakh and Rs 10,000 in cash into a bag. While leaving, he saw Khan's older daughter who returned from school with her sister. He panicked when she locked herself in a room and her sister ran down the stairs. He returned to the auto, wiping his hands on his clothes.

"Gupta changed his clothes at a friend's place and took a 7pm train to Kolkata the same day," said an official. In Kolkata, he hired an agent to re-enter Bangladesh. By this time, the crime branch was tipped off about his movements. A crime branch team flew to Kolkata and nabbed Gupta from Howrah station as he was to leave for Bangladesh. "The government's recent move, allowing investigators to go across the country without prior sanction, helped," said joint commissioner Sadanand Date.

"I wish Gupta would have asked me for the money, I would have gladly given him more," Khan's husband, Sonu Jalan, told TOI. Jalan, who runs an automobile business, was separated from his wife and lived in Kandivli but he met his daughters frequently.

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Killer arrested, was all set to escape to Bangladesh where his lover resided

The accused, Arvind Gupta, had gone underground three months ago as per the murder plan. He considered the victim a 'soft target' and planned to rob her and settle down in Bangladesh.

Goregaon resident Arvind Gupta, accused of killing Malad homemaker Shagufta Khan on Monday, was arrested around 6 am Thursday from the Howrah Railway Station in West Bengal. Officers from the Mumbai Crime Branch's Unit 11, who arrested Gupta, 28, said that the accused had planned to escape to Bangladesh, where his girlfriend resided, with cash and valuables worth around 70 lakh that he robbed from Shagufta's house.

Killer 'disappeared' three months ago to plan murder

Gupta told police that his desperation to marry his girlfriend - an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh who resided in Kamathipura - had completely taken over his mind, and he thought of robbing Shagufta's house as he considered her a "soft target".

Gupta worked at a mobile phone store in Goregaon, and had visited Shagufta's house in Rustomjee Riviera Apartments near Orlem Church a few times to deliver mobile phones. Having made up his mind to rob the house, Gupta quit his job around three months ago, abandoned his family, and disappeared from the area.

A senior police officer said that he started living in Nalla Sopara, and had no contact with family comprising his parents (his father is an autorickshaw driver). "Gupta had an affair with a woman from Kamathipura and the two had decided to settle down in Bangladesh. He started residing in Nalla Sopara around three months ago," Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Sunil Deshmukh said.

"In October, he sent his girlfriend to Bangladesh, saying he would join her shortly. Gupta had known Shagufta for the past oneand-a-half years, and thought of her as a soft target," Deshmukh said. Cops are yet to ascertain whether a complaint about Gupta going missing was filed by his parents, police said, adding that they are certain that no-one besides the accused are involved.

The murder

Around 3 pm on Monday, Gupta entered the sixth-floor flat of Shagufta, 38. Her husband was on a business trip to Australia, and her two daughters were at school.

The accused had hired an autorickshaw, and asked the driver to wait for a few minutes. Shagufta appeared to have resisted Gupta's attempt to rob her, and she was stabbed on the neck and torso with a knife he found in the kitchen.

In the meantime, the victim daughters returned to find the front door ajar. Police sources said that the girls saw bloodstains on the floor and noticed that the door to their mother's bedroom was shut. The elder daughter asked her sister to rush out of the house and knocked on the bedroom door. Gupta, with knife in hand, tried to catch hold of her but ran to the other bedroom and locked herself in, police said.

Gupta went back to Shagufta's room and took away earrings, gemstones, chains, watches, diamond-studded gold jewellery and cash, and went out of the building around 3.11 pm, boarding the same autorickshaw.

The Crime Branch officers refused to reveal how they traced the accused. "He pretended to be speaking on the phone while entering the exiting the building. Nobody stopped him, even though he was wearing a bloodstained shirt as he exited. Once he got into the autorickshaw, he might have changed his clothes," Deshmukh said.

"Gupta boarded the Kolkata Mail the same night. Our officers arrested him while he was leaving the station to escape to Bangladesh," the officer said.

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