“I was waiting for a call from my parents; little did I know I would lose my entire family that day,” says Shaili Mittal, part of a family where seven people were murdered by their driver in 2013. Over nine years later, accused Rahul Verma was sentenced to death by a Ghaziabad court Monday.
Shaili, who was 30 when the incident took place, is married to Sachin Mittal and lives at Navyug Market, a few minutes from her parents’ home in Nai Basti, Ghaziabad. She recalled: “I had been calling them all morning as my father was due for a kidney operation. He didn’t answer so I called my mother. I thought they were getting ready,” Mittal said. Her parents Satish Chand and Manju Goyal, in their 50s, her brother and sister-in-law Sachin Goyal and Rekha, in their 30s, and their children Megha(14), Honey (12) and Aman (10) were found dead on May 21, 2013. The victims are survived by Shaili and her sister.
According to Sachin, the person who discovered the victims was a medical staffer who gave regular injections to Goyal: “He found the house covered in blood with bodies lying around. We were informed by neighbours.”
It was their driver Monu who had recommended Verma for one of their two cars six months before the incident, Sachin said, adding that he did not know Verma very well.
Satish Chand Goyal had a property dealing business and shop that sold cattle feed (chaara) in Anaj Mandi and had been living in Ghaziabad for a while.
The court found that the forensic evidence, including the footprints and fingerprints found at the spot, belonged to Verma. The blood on the clothes recovered from him matched the victims’, and saliva from a cigarette butt too was his. He was arrested from a parking lot near railway station road with a bag where jewellery, cash and his blood-soaked clothes were recovered.
“He annihilated three generations of my family… Justice has been served. The fight has been won partially. If someone slaps your child, you feel hurt, but he stabbed my nephew 14 times,” Shaili said. The family sold the house a few years ago and there is a medical store in its place now.
Sachin Mittal, whose youngest son was the same age as Aman in 2013 and used to study together, said, “All family members’ throats were found slit along with stab marks… Around 15 days ago about Rs 4.5 lakh was stolen from my in-laws’ house pursuant to which Verma stopped coming to work.” Mittal owns a furniture shop at Navyug Market and has been living there with his wife and his two sons for the past 25 years.
According to Devraj Singh, their lawyer, arguments started in 2019 but the judge was transferred later that year. “Then the pandemic happened and the matter was not heard until January this year,” Singh said. “In all my life I have only seen two cases where accused showed no remorse — one was Surinder Kohli, accused in the Nithari case, and the second is Verma,” Singh said, calling this one of the biggest murders cases in Ghaziabad.
The court recognised that the matter falls into the rarest of rare categories. The court has sentenced the accused to death penalty under Section 302 (punishment for murder) along with a fine of Rs 50,000. The court has further sentenced the accused for imprisonment of 10 years under Section 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) along with fine of Rs 30,000 and an imprisonment of 3 years and fine of Rs 10,000 under Section 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) under the Indian Penal Code. The court has further sentenced the accused to an imprisonment of 3 years with fine of Rs 10,000 under Sections 25/4 of the Arms act. All the sentences will run concurrently, the court said, adding that the sentence the accused has already served in custody will be subsumed in the present sentence. However the death sentence would not be executed until approved by Allahabad High Court, the court added.
The testimony of Prashant Srivastava, Verma’s friend, whom he called on the day of the murder asking him to come to the victims’ house for a share in the money, was key, Singh said. The other testimony was that of a knife shop owner from whom Verma bought the murder weapon.
Mittal recalls how he felt when the judgment was pronounced. “I reached the court at 11 am but we were told that judgment would be pronounced in the afternoon. At 2 pm, the judgment was pronounced and I was present there along with my lawyers. My heart was palpitating. When I first heard the judgment I felt that justice had been served,” he said. But the loss of their family has left a huge hole in Mittal’s life and heart. “We stopped celebrating festivals, especially Raksha Bandhan, as my wife was very close to her family and would speak to them every day,” Mittal added.