Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Rajbir Singh
(Trigger warning: Descriptions of violence.)
"She wanted to pursue her PhD and become a professor," said Nikki Yadav's uncle Parveen, as he stepped out of the mortuary at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in West Delhi's Hari Nagar on Wednesday, 15 February.
Earlier in the morning, Parveen and his brother Sunil Yadav had driven down to Delhi from Haryana's Jhajjar, along with some neighbours, for the post-mortem examination of Sunil's daughter Nikki.
Nikki, 23, was strangled to death allegedly by her live-in partner Sahil Gehlot on the intervening night of 9-10 February.
As per the Delhi Police, 24-year-old Gehlot first strangled her using the charging cable of his phone and then stuffed her body inside a refrigerator at a dhaba owned by his family in Najafgarh's Mitraon village. Gehlot then got married to another woman on the same day.
"The post mortem is done. Her last rites will be performed in our native village. We were regularly in touch with her over the phone. It never felt like something was wrong," Parveen said, as the family headed back home to Jhajjar with Nikki's mortal remains.
An FIR was filed at the Baba Haridas Nagar Police Station on 14 February under Section 302 (murder) and Section 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Delhi Police Crime Branch arrested Gehlot, a pharmaceutical graduate, after he "confessed to his crime."
Ravindra Singh Yadav, Special Commissioner of Police (Crime), said, "He confessed to his crime and told us he killed Nikki on February 9-10. His family was pressuring him to get married and they had fixed his engagement and wedding. He did not inform her and continued living with her. She, however, found out about the wedding from someone else and confronted him."
'Family Had No Clue About The Relationship'
Sitting outside the mortuary, Jagdish Yadav – the family's neighbour from Jhajjar – said that Nikki's parents had no clue about her relationship with Gehlot. "Her parents didn't know about the boy. They were shocked when the police informed them about the incident," Jagdish told The Quint.
Eldest among three siblings, Nikki moved to Delhi in 2018 and met Gehlot on a bus en route Dwarka. Her father Sunil runs a motor garage in Gurugram.
In 2018, while Nikki was preparing for medical entrances, Gehlot was preparing the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination. As both of them couldn't clear the exams, they took admission in Galgotia College.
Special CP Yadav said that at Galgotia College Gehlot studied pharmacy while Nikki was pursuing bachelor’s in English.
"The family is now worried about their younger daughter. When an incident like this happens, it is natural to be scared. They want to take her back to Jhajjar but it will impact her studies," Jagdish said while referring to Nikki's younger sister who occasionally visited her at her rented house in Dwarka.
As per DCP (Crime) Satish Kumar, Gehlot's family had fixed his marriage for 10 February and Nikki learnt about it on 9 February. "After she confronted him about his wedding plans, Gehlot met Nikki and they went for a drive. Somewhere near Kashmiri Gate (in Old Delhi), things heated up and they started arguing after which Gehlot strangled Nikki to death," Kumar said.
'Want Death Penalty,' Says Nikki's Father
When Sunil Yadav reached the Deen Dayan Upadhyay Hospital at 1 pm on Wednesday, he went straight to the mortuary. Two and a half hours later, as he exited the mortuary with folded hands, he refused to speak to the media. He said he hasn't been able to comprehend what has happened to his daughter.
Earlier, in a statement, Sunil had demanded death penalty for the accused. He said he tried reaching out to Gehlot after he was informed by one of Nikki's friends that she was last seen with her live-in partner.
"We did not know she was in a relationship with Sahil Gehlot. We reached out to him only after her friend told us that she was last seen with him. We want him to be given the death penalty," Sunil said.
He also alleged that Gehlot misled him over the phone. "He said he was busy with his wedding preparations and that my daughter has gone to Goa," Sunil claimed.