A sensational crime has come to light from the Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh where a woman allegedly slit the throat of her live-in partner and kept the body in her refrigerator for a day till she bought a large suitcase to stuff it in.
She planned to quietly leave it at a busy railway station in dead of the night, but was caught in the wee hours on Monday (8 August). The size and the weight of the suitcase gave her away.
The woman is named Preeti Sharma and the victim was named Mohammed Firoz Salmani, who was eldest among ten siblings. Preeti has given her age to the police as 33 while Firoz's age as 23.
Preeti and Firoz lived in Tulsi Niketan colony of Ghaziabad that falls under the jurisdiction of Tila Mod police station. The colony is located on the border of New Delhi and Ghaziabad.
This correspondent visited the spot on Wednesday (10 August).
Preeti and Firoz lived in one of the eight one-room sets in a two-storey building. Neighbours said Preeti owned her one-room set and had been living with Firoz for about four years.
Preeti’s next-door neighbour Shabbo said that although she lived in the adjoining house, she never interacted with Preeti or Firoz. “She was different. She would wear shorts and T-shirts. Sometimes, she would come down to the market in those very clothes. She never talked to us. We also never had any need to talk to her.”
Shabbo says she has no recollection of any noise from Preeti’s house on Saturday (6 August), when she alleged murdered Firoz using a tool he used for his salon work.
“No, I did not hear anything,” she says and declines to get photographed.
She says other families on the same floor as Preeti have temporarily shifted to relatives nearby to escape hassles during the ongoing police investigation.
Several residents who by now have gathered at the spot say the only person who can give details is Bala, a “social worker”.
A woman who introduces herself as Bala Gosain arrives at the spot after a few minutes.
Asked what happened between Saturday and Monday, Bala says that as per the available information, Preeti is suspected to have killed Firoz using an ‘ustara’ on Saturday evening. She slit his throat.
On Sunday (7 August), Preeti locked the room and went to what is locally called “chhota bazaar” (small market) in Shahdara area to buy a large suitcase with a sturdy plastic covering and wheels. She stuffed the body in it using ropes.
Around 2am on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, she brought the suitcase down by herself and hired an autorickshaw. “We talked to that autorickshaw driver yesterday,” began Bala. “He told us that when he quoted Rs 300 to reach the Ghaziabad railway station, Preeti hurriedly said she would pay Rs 500 but the driver should do his job fast.”
Bala says that the driver, already suspicious, found the suitcase too heavy to lift. He called a man to help him, who too found the suitcase unusually heavy.
“By now, the driver was quite suspicious. He must have hinted something to the other man because the latter went straight to the Shanti Niketan police chowki, which is only a hundred meters away. The autorickshaw turned towards the direction of the chowki,” she says.
The police, on the other hand, have taken the credit for spotting Preeti. The police told the media on Monday that some cops saw her dragging a heavy suitcase on the road during their night patrolling.
They offered to help, but she declined. When the cops asked her questions on the timing of her train and destination, she gave incoherent answers, making them suspicious. They got women cops and got the suitcase opened in her presence.
See Ghaziabad police’s tweet below:
Asked for the contact number of the autorickshaw driver, neighbours said none of them had it.
They say they knew Firoz only by his nickname “chawanni” [the word means a 25-paisa coin]. He, like Preeti, did not interact with neighbours much.
They say they never saw the couple sit or walk together in the streets. Firoz, they say, worked at a salon in northwest Delhi, as a hair-cutter. What Preeti did for a living, they did not know.
They say they recall only one untoward incident from their stay in the colony.
“About a year ago, Firoz’s family came here. They kept calling for Firoz while standing in the street, but neither Preeti nor Firoz opened their door or came downstairs to talk to them. After some time, we told the family that it is not looking nice and if they have a family issue, they should go to the nearby police chowki. However, they quietly left for their house in Loni,” says Bala.
Firoz's kin dismiss the claim of 'killed over refusal to marry'
This correspondent managed to get a contact number of Firoz’s family from a neighbour. Ansar Hussain, who introduced himself as maternal grandfather (nana) of Firoz, answered the call.
Hussain said that Firoz’s family is quite poor, so much so that they don’t own a house. “They live in Loni in a rented house. All their life, they have lived in a rented house,” he said.
Firoz’s father gives haircuts for a living while his mother and sisters stitch and sell dusters and mops from old clothes to bring some additional money home.
Hussain said that he would be visiting the Tila Mor thana on Thursday (11 August) to know details about the case such as the contents of the first information report (FIR) and Preeti’s statement.
Asked if he could provide the phone number of Firoz’s father, Hussain said that he did not carry a phone and was hardly in a condition to talk. Hussain then offered to share whatever he knew.
He said that the family came to know about Preeti two years ago. Unknown to them, Firoz had moved in with her in Ghaziabad.
Last year, they called the couple home for a formal marriage. In April 2021, she went to Loni to live with Firoz’s family for some time.
“When she arrived home, she was already in the possession of a document of their court marriage. It was dated 25 March 2021,” says Hussain.
Firoz’s father Iqbal Salmani called Hussain and some other close family members for a meeting in Loni. He expressed two concerns arising from the situation.
“He [Firoz’s father] said that as Hindu-Muslim marriages are under scrutiny of the state government, we had to make sure that court documents are proper and Preeti did not go back on her statement. The second concern was that the neighbours did not approve of the court marriage. They called it illegitimate and said that it was a ‘gunah’ [sin] for Preeti and Firoz to stay together without ‘nikah’. They insisted on a nikah in the presence of a maulvi,” says Hussain.
After Preeti’s consent, they held a low-key ceremony on 5 April 2021, says Hussain. “We called a cleric, and some close relatives and neighbours.”
“Some ruckus happened that day,” says Hussain.
“When the village learnt that the woman is Hindu, some people went to the police station complaining about forced conversion. Somebody sent us a word before the police arrived. Preeti stormed out of the ceremony and went to the police station herself, arguing with the cops that whatever had happened, had happened with her choice,” he says.
Hussain shared with this correspondent the documents (attached below) related to the “court marriage” and nikahnama, along with pictures of the nikah ceremony.
Hussain says Preeti is much older than Firoz. “Although she told us she was 32, we did not believe her. I think she must be 40. Our child was raw. He was only 20,” he says.
Hussain dismisses the police’s version given to the media that Preeti killed Firoz for refusing to marry her despite living together. Readers may note that the police’s version was based on Preeti’s statement.
“As you can see from the papers and pictures, they were very much married. Not once, but twice. We will submit physical copies of all the documents to the police,” he said.
Asked what else could be the reason for Preeti to murder Firoz if not his refusal to marry her, Hussain said that nobody in the family knew. “We are only making guesses. What we have gathered is that Firoz had adopted the child of one of his woman colleagues in the salon. She is divorced. Whether he brought the child home or only provided for her, we do not know,” he says.
Hussain says Preeti and Firoz had been arguing over the child for some weeks. “A week ago, Firoz had come to Loni to stay with his parents for a few days. But within two days, Preeti came to Loni to take him back. What was unusual was that she turned up as early as six in the morning,” he says.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, station house officer of Tila Mod police station, told the media that Preeti said during her interrogation that what triggered her was that during a spat, Firoz told her, “Jo apne pati ki nahi huyi, woh kiski hogi? [a woman who could not commit to her husband, could commit to no one else].”
Hussain says Preeti and Firoz met in the salon where he worked. “She was probably a client.” Asked about her family, Hussain says that Preeti told them that both her parents had died and she did not have any relatives to support her.
Preeti, on the other hand, has told the police that she met Firoz in 2018 through social media, and that she had separated from her husband Deepak Yadav a year earlier.
Hussain shared the number of Jawed, a cousin of Firoz. Jawed said over the phone that he was busy with guests and relatives who had come for mourning. He said he would talk after a few days when he had visited the Tila Mod police station to get a complete picture.
“Actually, I do not live in Loni. I live in Sambhal so I do not quite know the details,” he said.
The Tila Mod police have booked Preeti for murder (IPC section 302) and disappearance of evidence (IPC section 201). The FIR, number 393/2022, was filed on 8 August on the complaint by a cop.
Preeti was presented before the court on Monday and sent to judicial custody.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.
The embedded tweet could not be found…