British woman murdered in Srinagar houseboat, Dutchman held

Srinagar: A 24-year-old British woman was found murdered Saturday in a houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinagar. A Dutch national who had also been living in the same houseboat has been arrested, police said.

The Dutchman had fled the houseboat early Saturday morning, but police found him at south Kashmir’s Qazigund town.

“A general alert was sounded across the Valley for the arrest of De-wit Richard, who had left the houseboat in the wee hours Saturday. He was arrested at Qazigund,” said Syed Afadul Mujtaba, deputy inspector general of police (DIG) central Kashmir range.

Qazigund in Anantnag district is about 80 km from Srinagar.

“He (Richard) had left all his belongs in the houseboat, and had fled with just his passport. He has been brought to Srinagar for further investigations,” the police officer said.

The owner of the “New Beauty” houseboat told IANS that the 24-year-old British woman victim had been staying in the houseboat for nearly two months. The Dutchman had only begun his stay on the boat two days back, in a room adjacent to the British tourist’s.

Abdul Rahim Shoda, owner of the houseboat, said he found the body of the woman with stab wounds in her room on the houseboat Saturday morning.

“I immediately reported the matter to police,” Shoda said.

“To reach the bank of the Lake, he used a small shikara (boat) attached to the houseboat. The shikara had capsized some distance from the houseboat, but Richard must have managed to reach the bank,” Shoda said.

Valley police chief Abdul Ghani Mir confirmed that the woman had been murdered.

“The body has been sent for post-mortem examination. Other forensic evidence is being collected to ascertain whether the victim was raped before murder,” Mir said.

The 18 sq km Dal Lake in Srinagar is dotted with over 1,000 houseboats. Along the lake’s shoreline are many vast gardens that go back to the Mughal era.

Last year, over a million tourists visited the Kashmir Valley; over 20,000 of them were foreigners.

George Harrison of the Beatles famously lived in a houseboat and learnt to play the sitar from Pandit Ravi Shankar in the 1960s.


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