A Dutch man has confessed to murdering a British tourist on her houseboat in India during a drug-fuelled attack, it has been reported.
Sarah Groves was found dead inside the boat on Saturday on the Dal Lake in Srinagar. Police have named the arrested man as Richard de Wit (43), claiming he was under the influence of cannabis.
A sexual motive has not been ruled out by police. Deputy General Inspector Ahafadul Mujtaba said, “He has told us he killed the girl — we don’t know why. He also says he had taken drugs (cannabis). We have taken his blood samples and have sent them away for testing.”
He added, “We have also not ruled out a sexual motive but there was no direct evidence at the scene. We are awaiting medical results.”
It has been reported that de Wit was carrying only his passportand was not wearing shoes when he was arrested 60 miles away.
On Sunday, police said that the victim, from Guernsey, Britain was found in a pool of blood. They added that Groves, a fitness instructor, had 45 stab wounds all over her body while a knife was found next to her.
The police say de Wit will be held in custody for the next 14 days while they continue to gather evidence. She had been staying on the houseboat for two months, the owner said, adding that she had been ‘like his daughter’.
A Facebook page set up in tribute has been signed by more than 2,000 people, with friends describing Groves as ‘an amazing person’ and ‘much loved by everyone’.
A Guernsey Police spokesman said: “Family members have been informed and it is requested that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.”
Slump in season
Tourism operators in Kashmir were dismayed to hear the news of the murder, and said they fear it may impact on their business, which has already been badly hit by turbulence in the Valley this year.
The murder comes after a deadly militant attack on an Indian security camp in March, and after a lengthy period of curfews and strikes following the hanging of Afzal Guru, in February for his role in the 2001 attack on parliament.
Nayeem Raja, a houseboat owner not connected with the New Beauty houseboat, said that news of the murder would worsen already dampened tourism.
“April is the peak season, but no new tourists are coming,” Raja said. The murder of Groves follows the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in March in Madhya Pradesh, followed by an incident involving a British woman jumping from her hotel room in Agra to escape a sexual assault.
A recent report said that after the fatal December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, which caused international furore, foreign tourist arrivals dropped 25 per cent in the first three months of this year.
The number of female foreigners visiting India has dropped 35 per cent.