News

From marriage to murder in 4 months

It was a violent end to a whirlwind romance scripted against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal, the biggest monument of love.

And their marriage was over in about four months.

Mr Bunty Sharma, 32, stabbed his American wife Arian Willinger, 35, to death after a series of allegations the couple levelled against each other.

He later killed himself in his home in Agra, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Sharma was an auto-rickshaw driver. Ms Willingar was a yoga teacher and psychologist from Pennsylvania, Indo-Asian News Service reported.

The couple met when she visited Agra last July with her friends to see the Taj Mahal, AFP reported.

At the end of her trip, she stayed behind and married him in October.

The ceremony was held on the rooftop of a hotel in front of the Taj Mahal.

But the romance soon fizzled out and the couple began living separately in December, reports said.

Mr Sharma accused her "of smoking too much, talking to other men and not staying at home", the Indian Express reported.

Ms Willinger, who went by the aliases Kiran Sharma and Erin White, accused him of greed, infidelity and cruelty, the Hindustan Times reported.

Each accused the other of hiding previous marriages.

She approached the Agra Police's Mediation Cell for Family Matters last month for help. The couple was put in touch with a counsellor, who encouraged them to live together again, Mail Online reported.

But the arguments continued and on Thursday evening, Mr Sharma drove his wife to a quieter section of the city and stabbed her to death.

He shoved her body in bushes along the road. He then returned home and locked himself in his room on the second floor.

Local residents said they heard an explosion and saw flames from the room. When they rushed inside to rescue him, they found his charred body on the floor.

Authorities believe he sparked the blast by igniting gas he had released from a cooking gas cylinder in the apartment.

On the day she was killed, she had spoken at a press conference to promote her campaign Agra Sunder Hai (Agra is beautiful). Several non-governmental organisations had pledged support for her.

She had said she hoped to help Agra with improving its water, plastic waste and garbage disposal.

Last September, she told Indo-Asian News Service of her desire to stay and help the city.

She said that she wanted to stay in Agra until she was "60 or maybe more - as long as the body permits".

"This city (Agra) needs a push," she was quoted as saying.

"The city is dirty and no one wants to stay back here for a night. You have to teach people to be conscious of hygiene, health and sensibilities of others. You have to build trust and reach out."

The US embassy in New Delhi has refused to comment on the case, but police officials cited embassy officials as saying that they had informed her family.