Indian police hold suspect in hunt for killer of girl, 17

The prime suspect in the hunt for the killer of Hannah Foster in Southampton last year was arrested by police in India yesterday after local people spotted a newspaper report of an appeal by her parents.

Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was caught in the foothills of the Himalayas as he made a break for the border, unnerved by publicity about the case.

The arrest vindicated the Trevor and Hilary Foster's decision to fly to the subcontinent this week to publicise the hunt for their daughter's killer.

Mr Kohli fled from Southhampton four days after Hannah, 17, disappeared from a street 500 yards from her home in March 2003 after a night out with her friends. She was found two days later, raped and strangled.

British police named Mr Kohli, who worked in a sandwich factory near Southampton, as the main suspect. But until yesterday, the last sighting of him was visiting his family in Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab state, around 18 March last year.

Grisly murders are not unusual in India, and the Foster inquiry was going nowhere until her parents made emotional appeals in a series of press conferences in the country.

Mr Kohli's photograph was shown on television, and wanted notices were splashed across the front pages of national newspapers, with details of a £60,000 reward, and a freephone hotline.

Yesterday, Indian police said Mr Kohli had been living in the Himalayas near Darjeeling under an assumed name, and had married a local woman.

Darjeeling police said the arrested man had confirmed that he was Mr Kohli, and admitted that he had thrown Hannah's body out of his car in Southampton.

"But he has not admitted to the crime and he has not explained how the body got into the car," Rajiv Mishra, the Darjeeling police chief, told a press conference.

Hampshire Police said they were waiting for the arrested man's identity to be confirmed, after which extradition proceedings would start.

Police in the Indian state of West Bengal said they had received a tip-off from locals who recognised Mr Kohli after his photo appeared on the front page of several newspapers.

The reward of 5 million rupees (£60,000), offered for information on Mr Kohli's whereabouts in India, is a huge sum for most Indians. In the poor communities around Darjeeling, it is enough for most people to retire and live off for the rest of their lives.

It appears Mr Kohli realised he was in trouble the moment he saw his picture in the newspapers. When police arrived at the house in which he was living, he had already fled.

"It is too early to say who this man is. We are working to establish that as quickly as possible, but we are cautiously optimistic," said Detective Superintendent Alan Bates, who led the hunt for Hannah's killer in Britain, and is in India with her parents.

Mr and Mrs Foster and Hampshire Police officers were searching for information on Mr Kohli in Punjab, where his family is from, when the news broke that he had been arrested more than 1,000 miles east in the Himalayas.

Police were assuming that Mr Kohli, a Sikh, was most likely to hide in the Sikhs' spiritual homeland of Punjab, where he could be supported by a close-knit network of family ties. Sikhs are few and far between in the Darjeeling area, where he appears to have been finally run to ground, and his presence would have been much more noticeable. Mr Kohli appears to have been living in Kalimpong, a poor farming community in the foothills under the shadow of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world.

Mrs Foster said: "We are delighted with the news of this arrest. During the last five days, we have been up and down on an emotional rollercoaster. We are just keeping our fingers crossed that the man arrested is the right man."

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little