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Indian rickshaw driver murders his American wife after Taj Mahal romance fizzles out

After stabbing his 35-year-old spouse to death, Bunty Sharma then committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

This undated photo provided by Indian police, shows Bunty Sharma and his American wife Erin Willinger in Agra. AP Photo
This undated photo provided by Indian police, shows Bunty Sharma and his American wife Erin Willinger in Agra. AP Photo

AGRA // An Indian rickshaw driver stabbed his American wife to death before setting himself ablaze, police said Saturday, in a violent end to a whirlwind romance scripted in the backdrop of the Taj Mahal.

Bunty Sharma, 32, killed 35-year-old Erin Willingar from Pennsylvania on a deserted roadside in the tourist city of Agra after the couple had a fight late Thursday, senior police officer Shalabh Mathur said.

Sharma drove Willinger in his vehicle and on reaching a secluded place where he stabbed and killed her, and dumped the body on the side of the road, Mr Mathur said.

Sharma later committed suicide by setting himself on fire, he said.

The couple first met when Willingar visited Agra last July with her friends to see the Taj Mahal, the world famous monument of love. Romance blossomed, they got married and began living together but soon had a falling out over suspicions of infidelity.

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

The US Embassy in New Delhi refused to comment on the case but Mathur cited embassy officials as saying that they had informed the victim’s family about her death.

“We are preserving the body of the victim until further instructions from the embassy,” Mr Mathur said.

The case grabbed headlines Saturday with local newspapers offering details of their Bollywood-style romance.

At the end of her July trip, Willingar stayed back as her friends returned home and married Sharma in a ceremony held on the rooftop of a hotel located in the backdrop of the Taj Mahal.

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

“Both of them tried to resolve their differences and even met with a marriage counsellor,” Mr Mathur said.

Willinger, from West Chester, Pennsylvania, adopted an Indian name, Kiran Sharma, and began working with a local non-governmental organisation to promote tourism in Agra.

* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Associated Press