Millennium Post

Laila murders caused by jealousy, greed: police

The decision of Bollywood starlet Laila Khan's mother to make her second husband Asif Sheikh the caretaker of their sprawling Igatpuri farm house triggered the killing spree of the family members, accused Pervez Tak has told crime branch investigators probing the case.

Tak, a forest contractor in Jammu and Kashmir with suspected LeT links, has told his interrogators that he did not like Sheikh's growing proximity to Shelina, Laila's mother.

Tak is the third husband of Shelina.

Sheikh, a local builder, was also questioned by the crime branch in connection with the case of alleged kidnapping of Laila and five other family members, including Shelina.

Sources close to the investigation said that last year when Laila Khan's family was on a vacation at their Igatpuri farmhouse, Shelina told Tak that she was planning to make Sheikh the caretaker of the property. According to sources, she had also got ready a power of attorney in favour of Sheikh.

This, they said, provided the trigger for the alleged killings.

Tak told his interrogators that Laila and other family members were done to death because they had witnessed him killing Shelina.

The investigators had on Tuesday found six skeletons from the family farmhouse in Igatpuri town of Nashik district, raising strong suspicion that they could be of the Bollywood actress and her family members who had been missing since February last year.

Tak, after initially claiming that Laila and her family was in Dubai, told Jammu and Kashmir Police, which had arrested him last month in a forgery case, that he had killed them in Maharashtra.

After neutralising Imran, the only male member of the family present, with powerful blows on his head with an iron rod, the two did others to death. Imran's skull had grievous injuries.

Maintaining that Tak had himself confessed to the killings and sequence of events, Roy said the crime branch units had recovered six skeletons from a pit at the farmhouse.

The skeletons were covered with blood-soaked mattresses, clothes and stones to ensure they were not pulled out by wild animals. The skulls had severe ante-mortem fractures.

The duo, after murdering the family, used diesel from a generator to set ablaze a portion of the farmhouse to destroy evidence, Roy said.

The family had bought a generator set as the farmhouse did not have an electricity connection.

The joint commissioner of police [crime] said though only forensic and DNA tests would conclusively establish the identity of the victims, the circumstances and the fact that Tak had led the police to the place from where the bodies were recovered 'make us reasonably believe that the bodies are of Laila Khan and her family members'.

After committing the crime, Tak, who too had suffered injuries on his head and hand, went to Ghoti, 7-8 kilometres from Igatpuri, where he arranged for drivers from a travel agent, to take the Scorpio and Mitsubishi Outlander SUVs belonging to the family to Jammu. Before proceeding to Jammu, they cleaned out the family's flat in Oshiwara in Mumbai, Roy said, adding it was not yet clear what they took away but no valuables were found there.

The family's Scorpio vehicle with Maharashtra registration was recovered from outside Tak's office in Jammu on 12 February after which the local police had begun to make inquiries about its ownership.

Roy said though Tak was insisting that he had acted on the spur of the moment after he had a heated argument with Shelina, the police are still ascertaining the truth. 'We are trying to figure out the truth. Whether he acted on the spur of the moment or it was a premeditated murder,' he said, adding Tak may be trying to mislead the probe and dilute the charges against him. He said Tak might have wiped out the entire family to grab the properties.

Roy said, as of now, only Tak and Shakir Hussain Wani were the accused in the case.

He, however, said police had not given a clean chit to Asif Sheikh, who too was detained and examined. 'We will make further arrests if needed,' he said.

Asked if Tak had any terror links, Roy said,' Following an alert after Delhi blasts, Kashmir police had picked up some people and during that combing operation the vehicle with Maharashtra number plate was found in front of Tak's office and this aroused suspicion.'

He rubbished reports that a satellite phone had been recovered from Tak. The starlet and her family had gone missing from Mumbai in February 2011.

A case of kidnapping was registered at the Oshiwara police station here on 3 July on a complaint by her biological father Nadir Patel.

According to the complaint, Tak and his alleged accomplice Asif Shaikh had kidnapped Laila and others.
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