(Trigger warning: Descriptions of violence. Reader discretion advised.)
Hardik Shah and his live-in partner Megha Torbi were to celebrate Valentine's Day together at their rented home in Nalasopara area near Mumbai. But, on 13 February, an argument between the couple turned ugly, with Hardik allegedly killing Megha in a 'fit of rage', a Mumbai Police official, who is part of the investigating team, told The Quint.
The 27-year-old allegedly strangulated his partner with a towel, and hid her body in the bed box. According to police sources, he slept on the same bed – beneath which Megha's body was laid – on the night of the incident.
The alleged murder came to light on 14 February when neighbours complained of a foul smell from the couple's rented home.
"As soon as we found the victim's body, we immediately tracked the accused's location. The accused went absconding 24 hours before we found the body. So, for quite some time, he stayed with the body. We informed the railway protection force and with their help got him arrested from Nagda station in Madhya Pradesh," senior inspector Shailendra Nagarkar of Tulinj police station, in Nalasopara, said.
Sold Furniture to Buy Tickets: How Did Hardik Flee?
Soon after the incident, Hardik reportedly sent a WhatsApp message to Megha's relative, informing her about the murder – adding that he was also going to die by suicide.
"This was not the first time Hardik had threatened to kill himself. Back when he stayed with his family, he had picked up a fight with his own father, and threatened death by suicide by slashing his wrist after his father refused to give him money," a source told The Quint.
A police source said that Hardik had first decided to surrender before the police, but returned home after spending two hours outside the Tulinj police station.
"He then sold furniture for Rs 4,500 and used that money to purchase the train ticket. He couldn't sell the bed as it had the body in it. The dealer wanted to purchase it, but he was surprised as Hardik refused to sell it," the source added.
An Argument Turned Sour: What Happened?
Thirty-seven-year-old Megha, who was a nurse by profession, quit her job three months ago, after Hardik promised to earn their living. While he had a job as a data analyst during the lockdown, he quit his job, and was dependent on the deceased for all his expenses. He was a spendthrift by nature, the source told The Quint.
Police sources, based on preliminary investigation, said that the couple would quarrel regularly over Hardik's 'unwillingness' to get a job and start earning.
"Megha asked him to get a job and start earning to which he refused. Two days before the murder, the couple had fought over the same reason," another source told The Quint.
According to the police statement, Hardik is the son of diamond merchant – but is estranged from his parents.
Hardik has been remanded to police custody till 21 February.