An aspiring Bollywood actress was murdered by two fellow actors she "befriended on the set of her latest film".
Meenakshi Thapa, 26, was kidnapped and beheaded last month by Amit Jaiswal and his lover Preeti Surin in an attempt to receive a ransom payment. She had met the pair on the set of Madhur Bhandarkar's yet-to-be-released film Heroine, where she had a bit-part role.
Thapa's mother is believed to have paid Rs60,000 (Dh4,167) for her release, but never saw her daughter again.
Detectives have said they believe she was strangled in a hotel and her body was hacked into pieces and thrown in a water tank. Then, in a final act of callous depravity, her head was thrown from a moving bus. Mumbai crime branch policemen recovered the body from Surin's house in Allahabad on Wednesday.
Jaiswal and Surin confessed the crime to the Mumbai Police after their arrest on Saturday night and said they were taken in by Thapa's pretentious stories about her "affluent family".
"The accused believed that Thapa was from a wealthy family because her lifestyle, despite not landing a big film role, hid the fact that she actually came from a middle-class background. They plotted to kidnap her for a ransom of Rs1.5 million and kill her after the payment was made," a police officer said.
Thapa was a struggling actress who earlier played a minor role in last year's horror film 404 and she appeared in some TV commercials. Her Nepalese-origin family settled in Dehradun some years ago. Like her, Jaiswal and Surin were struggling for a toehold in the film industry.
The duo lured Thapa to travel with them to Gorakhpur. There they held her hostage and called up her family demanding the ransom.
The police said they told Thapa's mother that they would drug her daughter and make a pornographic film if she didn't deposit the money in the victim's account. They also took her debit card. The mother deposited Rs60,000 in Thapa's account, but that didn't save her daughter.
A police officer said: "They returned to Mumbai from Allahabad by bus. On their way they threw out the bag."
In the meantime, Thapa's brother registered a complaint with the police in Dehradun on March 17 about his missing sister. The Mumbai Police were promptly alerted. In Mumbai, the killers thought they had done away with all evidence but for one slip. Jaiswal still had Thapa's mobile phone Sim cards. These led the police to the duo hiding in suburban Bandra.
"They confessed to the crime, but couldn't tell us exactly where they threw away the head during their journey from Allahabad to Mumbai," a police officer said.
Jaiswal, 36, and Surin, who is 10 years younger, were originally from Allahabad. They eloped after Jaiswal's wife discovered their affair and landed in Mumbai to try their luck in films.