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Cops to seek death sentence for Mumbai lawyer's murder

Last updated on: August 10, 2012 18:05 IST

Blinded by lust, the security guard at the residential complex lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha lived in, fatally stabbed her after she bravely resisted his attempt to rape, the police said on Friday, claiming to have cracked the sensational murder.

Pallavi (25), daughter of IAS officer Atanu Purkayastha, joint secretary in the agriculture ministry, was found lying in a pool of blood in her 16th floor apartment at the upscale 'Himalayan Heights' in Wadala by her live-in partner Avik Sengupta on Thursday morning.

Sajjad Ahmed Mughal (22), a native of Uri in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, stole the keys to her flat, tried to force himself on her, and brutally stabbed her to death when faced with stiff resistance, Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Himanshu Roy told reporters in Mumbai.

"It is the perversion of the highest order, heinous kind of perversion which deserves nothing but death sentence," Roy said, when asked about the motive behind the murder.

Giving details of the incident, he said on the fateful night of August 8, Pallavi, who worked as a legal advisor with filmmaker Farhan Akhtar's firm Excel Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, returned to her rented flat at 11 pm.

Finding that there was no electricity, she texted Sengupta, her senior at Indian Law School at Pune, who lived with her. Sengupta advised her to call an electrician, who came and set things right.

After some time, power was gone again. She called the electrician who was accompanied by Mughal. As the attention of the victim and electrician was focused on fixing the problem, Mughal stole the keys to the flat. The problem was fixed and Purkayastha retired to her bedroom after switching off the high-volt appliances, as advised by the electrician, to avoid tripping.

Roy said Mughal had told his interrogators that he had "manipulated" the electric meter of the flat located on the ground floor which led to a power cut for the second time.

After entering the flat, Mughal sneaked into the bedroom of the victim and tried to force himself on her. A scuffle ensued and Pallavi, a former national-level swimming champion, put up stiff resistance. Mughal then stabbed her and fled the scene after concealing the murder weapon -- a knife -- under a shoe rack on the third floor.

He jumped over the fence to escape the notice of fellow watchmen but was apprehended by the police near Mumbai Central railway station before he could board a train to Jammu and Kashmir, Roy said.

He said when Sengupta returned to the flat around 5 am, he saw the door ajar and a badly wounded Purkayastha lying in a pool of blood. Sengupta tried to revive her but failed, Roy said, adding that the neighbours were informed and security supervisor and the police called.

On arrival, the police found no signs of a forced entry and was told that being a "cautious" girl by nature, she would not have left the door ajar while going to sleep.

During the investigations, th epolice said it noticed injuries on the hand of Mughal, who on sustained interrogation, confessed to the crime.

To corroborate the truth, the police will match the clump of hair found in the hand of the victim with the Mughal's DNA, Roy said.

Describing the murder as a "premeditated kind of an act", the officer said, "apparently he was planning it for quite some time".

Asked if Pallavi had made desperate attempts to call her neighbours by pressing the door bell but nobody came to her rescue, Roy said the blood stains on the bell could be because Sengupta's hand was also soaked in blood when he woke them up to inform about the incident.

"But she indeed came out as there was blood outside the flat," he said.

Roy said the four CCTV cameras in the building were also not working for some time.

The joint police commissioner also referred to the "callousness" shown by the security agency which provided guards to the housing complex.

In the personal information given to the agency, Mughal has mentioned his residential address as 'Lal Chowk', Srinagar. "This is like somebody showing his address as Flora Fountain or Azad Maidan. This shows callousness by the agency," Roy said, adding the police will also examine the role and criminal liability of the security agency.

The police, he said, would also look into the reasons for non-functioning of the intercom to see if Mughal had tampered with it to prevent the victim from contacting other security guards.

Asked if the police had given a clean chit to Sengupta, the officer replied in the negative, saying," We have not given a clean chit to anybody."

Mughal has been booked under section 302 (murder) of the IPC and will be produced before a court on Saturday.

"We will seek the early appointment of a prosecutor and trial by a fast track court where we will seek death penalty for him," Roy said.

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