A 20-year-old woman from Delhi, India, died on New Year’s Eve after getting dragged for almost an hour in a hit-and-run incident that has shocked the country.
Anjali Singh was reportedly leaving a New Year’s Eve party on her scooter when a Maruti Baleno, a five-seater hatchback, suddenly hit her, resulting in her body getting stuck under the vehicle and being dragged for over 10 kilometers (approximately 6.2 miles) between Sultanpuri and Kanjhawala in outer Delhi.
Authorities said they received five calls through their Police Control Room (PCR) about the incident. The first call, made at around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, was connected to an officer in the Rohini district reporting the hit-and-run case.
In the second call, which was reportedly made at around 3:20 a.m., a patrolling officer informed the PCR about the scooter involved in the incident. A file logged at 3:56 a.m. detailed that no body was found.
Shortly before the filing, at around 3:30 a.m., Deepak Dahiya, an eyewitness to the crime, called the police to report the incident.
“It was horrible. I was outside my shop when I heard a noise and saw the body being dragged under the car. I shouted at the accused but nobody stopped. They were taking U-turns. I called police and chased the men but they were playing loud music.”
Singh’s body was found at around 4:15 a.m. in Kanjhawala’s Jaunti village, according to reports.
During their investigation, authorities discovered that another woman, who was only identified as the victim’s friend Nidhi, was with Singh at the time of the incident.
Delhi police managed to trace Singh’s whereabouts before the tragic crash through CCTV footage and found that the two women were both seen leaving a hotel on a scooter. Investigators later learned that Singh had asked Nidhi if she could drive the motorcycle after leaving the hotel at around 1:45 a.m.
The five men accused were identified as 26-year-old driver Deepak Khanna; Amit Khanna, 25; Krishan, 27; Mithun, 26; and Manoj Mittal, 27. They reportedly claimed the scooter was driving in an erratic, zigzag manner which resulted in the crash.
Reports said Nidhi was flung from the scooter after the crash. Nidhi claimed that Singh was drunk when she insisted on driving the motorcycle, which the victim’s family denied on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Rekha Devi, Singh’s mother, stated that her daughter had never consumed alcohol in her life and that this was the first time they had heard of Nidhi.
The victim’s uncle, Prem, also accused the woman of spreading false information.
“She is lying. Why did she not inform the police and her family? Why did she not come to the police? We are satisfied with police probe but they should take strict action. This is not an accident but a murder. Section 302 should be slapped on Nidhi.”
Bhupesh, the family’s doctor, corroborated their statement by citing Singh’s autopsy report while speaking to reporters.
“According to the autopsy report, there was food inside the stomach. If she would have been drunk, the report would have mentioned the presence of a chemical. But the report says only food has been detected [inside the stomach]. A murder is considered sadistic when a victim is brutally tortured before death. As per the autopsy report, she suffered 40 injuries.”
Terrified by what happened, Nidhi purportedly said she fled the scene after Singh was dragged by the car.
Investigators later discovered a time mismatch in some of the CCTV footage, with one clip showing that Nidhi had returned home at around 1:36 a.m. Police clarified that the CCTV DVR was running 45 to 50 minutes slow, however.
Delhi police found the owner of the car, who claimed that he had lent his hatchback to a friend, in Sultanpuri. Two hours later, two of the five accused were taken into custody, according to an officer.
The First Information Report (FIR) stated that all five men admitted to being intoxicated at the time of the crash and fled after realizing they had hit someone while driving.
“They took the car around 7 p.m. and came back around 5 a.m. and returned the car in a damaged condition. Amit and Deepak told [the person who lent them the car] that they were drinking and had hit a girl. They got scared and fled.”
Speaking to the police, Khanna said the other passengers dismissed him when he felt that “something was stuck” in the car. His suspicion was purportedly confirmed after Mithun saw Singh’s hand after they made a U-turn at Kanjhawala. The body eventually separated after the driver stopped the car.
All five accused have been arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, rash driving and causing death by negligence.