Monday, August 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punia case: daughter arrested
Raman Mohan

Hisar, August 26
Sonia, daughter of former legislator Relu Ram Punia who had killed her father and seven others on Thursday before attempting suicide, was arrested by the police today after she was discharged from a private nursing home at Barwala, near here.

Although a police posse had been stationed there after she was admitted to the nursing home, she had not been formally arrested. The doctors today discharged her and a police party from Barwala arrested her there itself. She was reportedly taken to an unknown place for interrogation.

The SP, Mr Rajpal Singh, told this correspondent that the police was preparing legal documents for producing her before a duty magistrate. Although he declined to say when this would be done, it is expected that she will be produced before the magistrate late tonight. The duty magistrate was present in his court throughout the day anticipating her production, but he left the court around 4 p.m. when the process appeared to be getting delayed.

It is learnt that though Sonia has confessed to clubbing her father, mother, sister, step-brother, his wife and his three children to death, the police is still exploring the angle that she alone did not commit the crime. Her plea that she left the house around 4.45 a.m. following the murders for about 30 minutes, hoping to ram her vehicle into a truck to end her life, has not convinced the police. Many suspect that she dropped her accomplices at a crossing not far from the farmhouse.

The absence of jewellery on the bodies of the victims is also baffling investigators. Normally, well-to- do married women of this community wear a lot of jewellery but none of the murdered women had any ornaments on them. Relu Ram was rarely seen without his favourite gold chain around his neck. However, only a watch was found on his left wrist.

Sonia is said to have made some startling revelations in her confession. She is reported to have said that her father was also dealing in narcotics and that he had lost some money in the past few years as the businesses he set-up for his step-son did not take off .

The whereabouts of her husband Sanjeev are not yet known. Sonia had claimed he had gone to Faridabad after dropping her here on Thursday. He did not visit her throughout her stay in the nursing home. Back

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