Just over a year apart, Nikki and Nidhi Yadav were inseparable since childhood. “Nikki was so bold and street smart. I wanted to be like her, I wanted to be like my elder sister,” said Nidhi, as tears rolled down her eyes.
And it’s been four days since Nikki and Nidhi’s father received that dreadful call from the police, asking him to identify his eldest child’s dead body.
“Rone se zyaada gussa aata hai (More than wanting to cry, I am angry.) How could Sahil do this to my sister?” asked Nidhi. The anger was palpable in her voice as she spoke to The Quint at the family’s residence in a village in Haryana’s Jhajjar on Thursday, 16 February.
On the intervening night of 9 and 10 February, 24-year-old Sahil, who was studying Pharmacy at Galgotias College, strangulated his long-time girlfriend Nikki, with a data cable of his mobile phone, inside his car. Hours later, he got married to another woman, after he allegedly hid Nikki’s body inside a fridge at a dhaba on the outskirts of Delhi.
He was arrested by Delhi Police on 13 February.
At the Yadav home in Jhajjar, relatives and neighbours spoke about their beloved Nikki – the bold, bright, young woman, who loved Netflix and pizza – and the tragic end she met. This is her story.
'The First Woman in The Family To Leave Home For Studies'
Nearly 70 km away from Delhi, in Haryana's Jhajjar district, a narrow bylane leads to a one-storeyed house where Nikki used to live with her parents and her two siblings till she left home for higher studies. She was pursuing her Bachelor's in English from Galgotias College in Greater Noida.
Her uncle Praveen Yadav told The Quint, “Nikki was the first woman of the family to leave the village and pursue studies outside. Now, there are more women from the family doing that but she was the first one. Nikki was smart, and very good at studies even in school.”
Outside the Yadav house, men of the family and neighbourhood sat and demanded justice. Inside, silence enveloped the rooms. Nikki’s mother is nowhere to be seen. “She has fallen sick since she heard what happened,” said Nidhi.
The two sisters lived together at a rented house in Delhi’s Uttam Nagar and would return to Jhajjar often. “Our parents wanted us to study and be independent. We would come back home for Diwali, Christmas and other festivals,” recalled Nidhi, who is pursuing her Masters in Noida.
All of Nidhi’s memories are intertwined with Nikki’s. “My sister spent most of her time reading novels. She loved writing too. She would watch shows on Netflix… and recommend them to me,” said Nidhi, as she fought back tears.
Nidhi said that Nikki wanted to become a professor. She recalled, “She loved different cuisines and pizza was her favourite."
Nidhi said that her sister was also taking coaching classes for NEET but “lost interest in that because she loved English and wanted to study Literature.”
Nikki, her uncle Praveen said, was the first-born child of the family, and everyone’s favourite. He said, “She was close to everyone, especially her grandfather. When she was born, we were all overjoyed.”
Nidhi recalled a moving memory – one that ended in tears on Thursday. “Nobody at home celebrates New Year’s eve, so it was just the two of us that night, lying side by side, wishing people on our phones. Nikki asked me ‘mujhe new year nahi wish karegi kya? (Won't you wish me a Happy New Year?)' To which I responded, ‘Main kya wish karu? Tu rahegi meri saath poore zindagi (Why should I wish you? You are here with me forever)'"
'She Spoke to Me The Day she Disappeared,' Said Nidhi
Grief quickly paved way for anger and shock in the conversation, as Nidhi recalled the day her father received the call from police. It was 13 February. “He was called to identify a body. He went alone, came back and broke the news to the family that we had lost Nikki,” recalled Nidhi.
She said that she spoke to Nikki last on the day she disappeared. “Nikki left home early that morning. She told me that she is going to a friend’s place, and called me late evening too. She asked me to have dinner and not wait up for her,” said Nidhi.
At 10 pm, when Nidhi called Nikki, her phone was switched off, she claimed. “That’s when I started calling her friends and found Sahil's number. When I called him, he told me that Nikki had left for Dehradun and Rishikesh but she had not taken her mobile phone. He said that Nikki had left her phone with him,” recalled Nidhi.
Finding this suspicious, Nidhi alerted her family back home in Jhajjar. "Sahil repeated the same thing to our father when he approached him," Nikki alleged.
“How is it that the groom disappeared on his wedding day and his parents took no notice?” asked Nidhi.
'He Strangulated Nikki When Confronted About wedding': Delhi Police
As per Delhi police, Sahil and Nikki travelled to their “respective coaching institutes daily in the same bus, and they became friends and later on fell in love. They started meeting before and after the coaching classes. In February 2018, the accused took admission in D. Pharma in Galgotias College at Greater Noida and the deceased also took admission in the same college in the BA (English Honours) course. Thereafter, both of them started living together at Greater Noida in a rented house.”
During COVID-19 lockdown, the two returned to their respective homes and started living together again once the lockdown was lifted, as per police.
“The accused did not inform his family members about his relationship. His family was pressurising him to get to married to another woman... His engagement and marriage was fixed for 9 and 10 February," said Special CP Ravindra Singh Yadav.
Police claimed that Sahil did not inform Nikki about his marriage plans, and when he was confronted about this by Nikki, he allegedly strangulated her.