Delhi Police Headquarters near ITO (representational image) | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Delhi Police Headquarters near ITO (representational image) | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Text Size:

New Delhi: How do you murder a woman with a peacock tattoo, pack her into a bag, dump it outside a railway station and disappear for eight long years? You change your name, create multiple fake ids in Gurgaon such as an Aadhar card, a PAN card, driving licence as well as class 10 and class 12 mark sheets with varying addresses and not draw attention to yourself.

But most importantly, you never-never accept a smartphone as a gift.

That is what Raju Gehlot did for the eight years he lived as Rohan Dahiya.

Accused of killing his live-in partner Neetu Solanki in February 2011, Gehlot managed to outwit the Delhi Police for nearly decade by assuming a fake identity and relying on doctored identity cards. His death, in Gurgaon’s Paras Hospital Wednesday night, has brought to a close a case that a Delhi Police crime branch official called the department’s Tom and Jerry tale.

Despite their “best efforts” to track Gehlot, the mouse, he always managed to outsmart the chase and remained untraced until he breathed his last in the Gurgaon hospital. The case has not only brought to the fore, the Delhi Police’s failure to nab him but also the ease with which fake identity cards can be prepared in the country.

A murder and an eight-year mystery

Gehlot and Solanki were living together in a rented accommodation in New Delhi’s Hari Nagar when he allegedly killed her after a heated argument.

The Delhi Police were first made aware of the murder on 11 February 2011 when they were informed of a suspicious bag dumped outside the New Delhi Railway Station. The bag contained the body of a woman with a peacock tattoo on her abdomen — it would become her defining characteristic.

The tattoo quickly became a talking point when the police published notices seeking information about the dead woman, giving her the name ‘The Girl with The Peacock Tattoo’, coincidentally nearly two years after the Steig Larson novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo took the world by storm.

Nobody initially came forward to claim the woman’s body and the frustrated police performed her last rites on 23 February.

But the peacock tattoo on Solanki’s body helped her parents identify her. Police then zeroed in on Solanki’s live-in partner, Gehlot, then 29 and an employee with Air India, as the prime suspect in her murder. Police had even suspected that he might have even married her without informing her family.

Efforts to nab Gehlot yielded no result and he was declared a proclaimed offender with a Rs 2 lakh reward on his head.

Police, however, had arrested Gehlot’s cousin, Naveen Shokeen, in 2011 for allegedly concealing Gehlot. He had allegedly given Rs. 10,000 to Gehlot but had turned down the latter’s request to borrow his car.

The charge sheet in the case was never filed before a Delhi court but the crime branch will now obtain Gehlot’s death certificate to present it before a court and seek closure of the case.

Also read: BMW, Louis Vuitton & murders, robberies — Life and crimes of UP gangster Badan Singh Baddo

The fake identity cards

One of the ways Gehlot managed to stay ahead of the police is by relying on fake identity cards.

A visit to his last employer, service provider and BPO, Kochar Infotech in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon, revealed that Gehlot had provided multiple fake ids in the name of Rohan Dahiya for verification — Aadhar card, PAN card, driving licence as well as class 10 and class 12 mark sheets also with varying addresses.

The address details revealed that he moved places quite quickly while confirming that he had been staying in Gurgaon for the past few years. Having joined the BPO in September 2017 through a placement agency, he had gone on to lead a team of seven-eight people in less than two years, his teammates told ThePrint.

Before this, he had worked with another BPO in Sector 17, Gurgaon, according to the resume that he had submitted to Koacher Infotech. The fake identity cards revealed that he had initially stayed at the Railway Colony in Gurgaon and at the time of his death, had been living as a paying guest in Phase V, Udhay Bhawan, Gurgaon.

When ThePrint visited his PG in a crowded busy colony in Gurgaon, the owner said that Gehlot had produced an Aadhaar card and a driving licence in the name of Rohan Dahiya as identification proof.

“I met him almost every day before he left for office in the afternoon and he seemed like any of the other people residing in the PG,” the PG owner, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint. “His friends visited him often and they would drink like any other set of boys.”

Be it officials of the company he worked with or the PG owner, everyone is unable to fathom the ease with which Gehlot produced so many fake documents in the name of Rohan Dahiya.

ACP Rajeev Ranjan, who is overseeing the matter, told ThePrint that police are witnessing at least 10 instances of people forging identities every three weeks.

“This has become very common. If all documents are fake, then one is able to even get a fake Aadhar card made,” Ranjan said. “No one cares to verify. We have been getting many such cases.”

He added that in places as huge as Delhi and Gurgaon, anonymity was easier and hence such incidents of forging identity were on the rise.

Phone-y business

Gehlot’s colleagues say that while he portrayed himself as just any other regular person, the only peculiarity they found was that he “refused to accept a smartphone as a gift”.

“He always carried a simple Nokia keypad kinda phone and we wondered why, so when we offered to get him a new smartphone, he said he was ‘happier with this’,” one colleague said.

But Gehlot has a history with mobile phones. According to ACP Rajeev Ranjan, the BPO worker had 15 phones that he switched all these years. “He would threaten people and take their phones and later sell them to earn money,” Ranjan said. “This was after he quit his job with Air India in 2011.”

The police official said that each time they would track down his location through his mobile phones or through information they would receive from his family members, he would have left or police would end up meeting the original owner of the said mobile phone.

How Delhi Police traced Gehlot this time

Gehlot was suffering from a liver ailment and was admitted to Paras Hospital in Gurgaon. When doctors said they couldn’t save him given it was a case of multiple organ failure, his colleagues had turned up in great strength to support an obedient “Dahiya”.

They say that they felt sorry for him as no family member had shown up and had paid for his treatment that eventually cost Rs 7 lakh besides health insurance.

The colleagues say that Gehlot’s cousin, who lives about 100 m from the hospital, was also informed about his critical condition. “She came to see him but didn’t wish to be associated with him and claimed she was only from the same village as his,” said a senior official of the firm adding that this is when they decided to put out a look-out notice for him with the nearest police station in Gurgaon.

“The police came and identified him at Raju Gehlot, who was wanted in a 2011 murder case. We didn’t know what they were talking about,” the official told ThePrint.

Also read: How the mother of crimes in south Delhi was nabbed after an 8-month chase


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism