A police patrol police team found the woman’s body under just one blanket on the pavement outside Lady Irwin College, close to the Mandi House Metro station.
On a day when the temperature in Delhi plummeted to 2.6 degrees Celsius — the lowest in the last four years — a homeless woman was found dead on a pavement in the heart of the National Capital.
A police patrol police team found the woman’s body under just one blanket on the pavement outside Lady Irwin College, close to the Mandi House Metro station, around 2.15am on Saturday. The night temperature had plummeted to 2.6 degrees Celsius around the same time, said Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi).
A packet of food, possibly given to the woman by someone, was found next to her body, said the DCP. Once the police shifted the homeless woman’s body to a hospital, another hungry homeless man quickly finished the food.
“There was some rajma mixed with groundnuts in the plastic container. I was very hungry, so I ate it,” said Sandeep Kumar, the homeless man who claimed to have spoken to the woman a few hours before she was found dead.
The body of the woman, who appeared to be in her 40s, also bore superficial burns, but DCP Verma said that the injuries seemed old and were unlikely to have contributed to her death.
“We will wait for the autopsy report, but the most likely reason for her death appears to be the biting cold. She could also have been ill,” Verma said, ruling out any foul play.
The officer said that the woman was probably a vagabond and was yet to be identified. But Sandeep remembered her name as some ‘Rajputi or Lajwanti’ who mentioned Palwal as her native place.
“This was her third night here. Earlier, she stayed under the Tilak Bridge or the ITO skywalk but would keep shifting her sleeping spot due to construction works. I don’t know how she earned money, but she would go across some railway tracks in the daytime,” said Kumar, based on his brief conversation with the woman on Friday night.
“While speaking to me, she once held my hand and said I was like her son. I don’t know if she was in her senses. Maybe she just wanted some new friends at the new place. She had no family,” said Kumar, who has been spending his nights near the Mandi House Metro station for some time now with two-three other homeless people.
The DCP said that the police patrolling teams look around for homeless people in New Delhi neighbourhoods and move them to the closest shelter homes. It was during one such patrolling session that a police team spotted the woman under a blanket.
“She seems to have died in her sleep. There were no signs of struggle,” said DCP Verma.
Kumar was woken up from his slumber by the same police team moments later. “The police asked me to leave the place, saying they had to carry out some work. I saw them carrying a body on a stretcher. I moved to the pavement along the opposite carriageway and later got to know that the woman had died” said Kumar, who hails from Gohana in Haryana and works as a casual labourer in Delhi.