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Help among 4 held for 1971 war hero’s murder

Friday, 13 June 2014 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

A retired Indian Army officer who fought the 1971 war and was awarded the Vir Chakra for exemplary bravery during the war with Pakistan was found murdered in his West Patel Nagar residence in Central Delhi on Thursday morning.

Major (Retd) Rohit Sethi (64) was found dead with bruises all over his body. Sethi lived with his 94-year-old mother and ran a paying guest (PG) accommodation for students preparing for competitive exams on the second and third floor of his house.

Acting swiftly, police arrested four persons, including the caretaker of the PG accommodation Ravi Yadav and a recently-engaged minor help in connection with the murder-cum-robbery. Two other accused Arun and Pintu are friends of Yadav and work as domestic helps in the neighbourhood.

Suspicion fell on Ravi Yadav after he was unable to give satisfactory answers to the police who questioned him on Thursday. Technical surveillance and Call Data Records of the 17-year-old servant and Ravi Yadav revealed that they both were constantly in touch from the day he joined Sethi’s employ and were also present at the same location during the time of the murder.  Over 20 calls were exchanged between them.

Following sustained interrogation, Yadav broke down and confessed to the crime and told the police that he, along with the servant and two other accomplices namely Pintu and Arun Yadav hatched the murder. He revealed that he made the plan to rob and kill Sethi a few days ago and brought the juvenile for this purpose only.

“On Wednesday night, Ravi and the minor brought sedatives from a chemist and mixed them in the dal served to Sethi. They even sedated Sethi’s dog. After Sethi fell asleep, the servant opened the back door to facilitate the entry of his associates Arun, Ravi and Pintu into the house.

The four men then attacked Sethi, who fought back. Sethi’s jaw was injured in the scuffle and he had punch marks all over his body.  Blood stains were found on a pillow as well. The accused then overpowered Sethi and strangulated him. Then they stole jewellery from the house,” said a senior police official.

Police said Ravi had been working in the house for the last two years and knew that Sethi lived alone with his mother as his son works as a banker in Singapore. “He roped in Pintu, Arun and the juvenile in the conspiracy to kill and rob Sethi. The minor was employed as a cook-cum-housekeeper with Ravi’s help. The juvenile servant’s police verification was not done,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Central) Alok Kumar on Thursday. A part of the stolen jewellery has also been recovered he added.

According to the police, the murder was discovered after the deceased’s mother raised an alarm as her room’s door had been bolted from outside. Hearing her screams the neighbours rushed to her help only to find Sethi motionless on the sofa.

The police was called and Sethi was rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Sethi was conferred the Vir Chakra for exemplary courage during the 1971 war against Pakistan. Sethi who was a Second Lieutenant commanding the commando platoon of the 9th Gorkha Rifles in December 1971 led his platoon attack. As he neared his objective, the enemy opened fire with heavy machine guns. Sethi immediately charged the enemy post and jumped into the communication trench of the pillbox, lobbed a grenade inside and followed it up with a bayonet attack to silence the enemy. He dealt with two other pillboxes and two bunkers in a similar manner. Inspired by his courage, his platoon charged the objective and captured it. Again, on the night of December 6, he repulsed two enemy counter-attacks against his locality. He was later awarded the Vir Chakra. His wife and son who were in England are flying back for the last rites.

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