London: Police were reported to have arrested the estranged India-born husband of a young British Punjabi woman who died on Monday after being found on the streets of a London suburb with a severed hand.

In a shocking case that could be the result of an ‘honour killing', Geeta Aulakh, a receptionist at Britain's largest Asian radio station Sunrise Radio, died in hospital hours after being found lying on a street on Monday evening in the west London neighbourhood of Greenford.

Aulakh, 28, had a head injury and her right hand was severed from her arm, police said amid speculation yesterday that she was a victim of ‘honour killing' — a practice that occurs predominantly among Sikh and Muslim communities.

Aulakh was attacked on Monday evening, shortly after leaving work in Southall to pick up her two children, aged eight and nine, and was found by a shocked passer-by a short distance from the front door of her babysitter's house. Her husband, from whom she was separated, was among six people who were arrested.

British police do not name suspects until they are charged.


Police are investigating several theories behind the murder, including jealousy, access to Aulakh's children or bringing dishonour to the family, British newspapers said.

Speculation that Aulakh was a victim of honour killing mounted after a friend revealed that it was Geeta's right hand  which wears the ‘kara' (religious bracelets worn by Sikhs)  that was cut off.

"It's horrific but hugely symbolic that Geeta's right hand was cut off. The kara is a permanent reminder to live a moral and good life and once it's on you can't get it off," the Daily Mail quoted a friend as saying.

"So her murderer was both dishonouring her and perhaps trying to show she had been dishonourable which is just barbaric."

But friends said her husband was devastated when Geeta left and was trying to win his wife back.

The case has shocked the bustling west London suburbs of Greenford, where Geeta Aulakh lived, and Southall, where she worked.

The two neighbourhoods are home to London's largest communities of Punjabis.