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Dutch man nabbed for tourist death in Kashmir

Body of young British woman was found with multiple stab wounds in cabin of houseboat in the city of Srinagar.

Last Modified: 06 Apr 2013 10:13
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Dal Lake, where a woman's body was discovered on a houseboat, is a popular tourist destination [Getty]

Police in India have arrested a 43-year-old Dutch national suspected of killing a young British woman who was found dead on a houseboat in Kashmir.

Richard De-Wit has been accused of smashing the latch on the houseboat cabin door of the 24-year-old British tourist on Saturday and stabbing her to death, according to police.

"We walked into a pool of blood in her room," police superintendent Tahir Sajjad told AFP news agency. "We found a sharp-edged knife close to her body. The young lady had multiple stab wounds."

Officers were investigating whether the victim was sexually assaulted, in what is the latest in a string of attacks on tourists travelling in India.

"We can confirm the Jammu and Kashmir police have the body of a British woman. We have contacted the next-of-kin and we are providing consular assistance to the family," a British High Commission (embassy) spokeswoman told AFP in New Delhi.

"At this moment, we cannot reveal the identity of the woman," she said.

Suspicion of murder

Police said they had arrested De-Wit near a highway some 75 km from Srinagar.

"The suspect has been taken into custody on suspicion of murder and we are questioning him," Sajjad said.

De-Wit had been staying in the same houseboat, named "New Beauty", as the victim and he had arrived two days earlier, police said.

He had allegedly fled in a small boat which capsized as he was trying to reach the shore, forcing him to swim. The suspect was carrying only his passport when he was arrested, police said.

"We flashed an alert for his arrest," Kashmir Inspector General of Police Abdul Ghani Mir said.

Safety of women

Last month, a 39-year-old Swiss cyclist was allegedly gangraped and robbed by six men in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Also last month, a British woman dental hygienist suffered leg injuries when she jumped from a hotel balcony in the northern tourist city of Agra, fearing a sexual assault by hotel employees.

The safety of women in India has been in the spotlight since the December fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in Delhi, which sparked nationwide outrage.

Every year, thousands of tourists visit Kashmir, known as the "Switzerland of the East" for its snow-capped mountains, lakes and breathtaking landscapes, many of them staying on numerous brightly painted houseboats dotting Dal Lake.

The Kashmir houseboat owner was shocked by the British tourist's killing.

"She was very dear to me, she was just like my daughter," a weeping Hafeeza, who goes by one name, told India's NDTV.


 

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