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TEN CURIOUS MURDER MYSTERIES IN INDIA!

Author: Adv.Siddhi Gokuldas Naik, II year of LL.M. from V.M.Salgaocar College of Law, Goa


A very popular saying goes, Commit a crime and the world is made of glass. No den in the wide world can hide a rogue! However, many criminals in the world have proved this statement wrong by never getting caught for the crime they commit.


There is nothing more chilling than dealing with a gruesome crime especially an unsolved murder mystery. When a person is killed there is always a curiosity to know who must have committed the crime and why? However, the general public is often landed in a dilemma when these questions remain unanswered.

Over the years many such murders have happened in India leaving the entire nation in a baffled state. Though the Judiciary has ruled its verdict in certain cases but way down it is hard for the public to accept it. Many secrets are under wraps to date.

Here are the top ten murder mysteries that shuddered the country:


1. THE LAKSHMIKANTHAN MURDER CASE (1944)

A Journalist stabbed to death in Vepery, Madras Presidency!

This was a high-profile matter which gained immense public attraction in the 1940s and 50s and is a controversial affair to date. C.N.Lakshmikanthan was a Tamil film journalist who published a weekly magazine called “Cinema Thoothu” which wrote articles shaming the private lives of esteemed citizens including films actors, top business figures, and politicians.


Upset with these articles, M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, the top most celebrity of those times, S.M.Sriramulu Naidu, a renowned film director, successfully pleaded to the Governor of Madras to revoke Lakshmikanthan’s license to cease the publication of the magazine. However, Lakshmikanthan started another weekly magazine called “Hindu Nesan” and continued writing defamatory stuff accusing M.K.T and Naidu of seducing innocent girls and also that Naidu’s wife was a prostitute.


He traded these contents and earned a lot of money. However, in the process, he made intractable rivals. On 8th November 1944, a group of unidentified men stabbed and killed him in Madras.


A criminal case was filed and six suspects were arrested. What grabbed attention was the arrests of M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, S.M.Sriramulu Naidu, and N.S.Krishnan, a legendary comedian. While Naidu was acquitted the other two were found guilty and convicted for three years. However, on appeal, they were found to be innocent and acquitted. The case is a mystery to date as the actual murderers were never traced.


2. THE CHACKO MURDER (1984)

Greed for money can push humans to unimaginable limits!

Sukukumar Kurup, an executive in a Marine Petroleum Company in Abu Dhabi was engaged in swindling of insurance money. He had taken an insurance policy worth 30 lakhs before he returned to Kerala from Abu Dhabi. He was inspired by an insurance fraud committed in Germany where the culprit had faked his death to get the money through his nominee.


So he planned his fake death along with his brother-in-law Bhaskara Pillai, driver Ponnappan, and his friend Shahu. Initially, he had planned to rob his lookalike’s body from a morgue. When that plan failed he decided to dig graves. When plan B failed too, Murder was brought into the picture. They began hunting for a lookalike for days until they met K.J.Chacko, a film representative outside Hari talkies, a stranger who unfortunately fell into the trap.


Coincidently he asked for a lift from Kurup’s driver. On the way, he was forced to consume alcohol mixed with ether which made him unconscious. Bhaskara Pillai strangulated him to death and his face was burnt till it was unidentifiable. Later, while he was taken to a paddy field his body was transferred to the driver’s seat, doused with ten litres of petrol, and was set ablaze along with the car.


The body was unrecognizable. However, post mortem revealed the entire plan. While both the brother-in-law and the driver were caught and awarded life imprisonment, the mastermind Kurup went absconding.


The last time he was traced in Mumbai was in 1990, but he managed to escape again. In 2010 during his son’s wedding police kept a close watch on the house hoping to nail him but failed. It’s been 37 years that Kurup is on the run and there is no clue about him.


3. THE NOTORIOUS STONEMAN SERIAL KILLER (1985)

A serial killer targeting rag pickers and homeless people as his victims with a heavy stone!

The “Stoneman” was a title given to an unidentified serial killer who killed around thirteen homeless people of Calcutta in 1989 while they were sleeping. He used to smash the heads of the deceased with a heavy stone. The Calcutta Police linked the same killer to a similar series of twenty-six murders that were committed in Bombay from 1985 to 1988. There was no eyewitness or any sort of evidence left behind making it difficult for the investigators to identify the culprit.


These murders were far forgotten as the killings had stopped strangely until they commenced back in Guwahati. The numbers here kept on varying. However, the common element was that these victims were also low risk and were smashed with a heavy stone on their heads.


To date, it remains a mystery as to who must have committed the crime and whether it was done by one person or a group of killers?


4. JESSICA LAL MURDER (1999)

A barmaid and an aspiring model shot dead at a bar!

Back then in the 1990s, the newspapers were flooded with the headline, “No one killed Jessica!” This case led to a huge uproar in the country. Jessica Lal, an aspiring model working as a barmaid in a socialite party was shot dead with a pistol on 30th April 1999, at around 2.00 am by Siddharth Vasisth also known as Manu Sharma, the son of Venod Sharma, a wealthy and influential Politician. The only reason for the same was the refusal of Jessica to serve him alcohol as the bar was running out of it.


He was arrested and charged with murder, destruction of evidence, and other crimes. Meanwhile, thirty-two witnesses refused to speak up and turned hostile.

Seven years post the murder, the case was reopened and in 2006, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine. A plea for his death sentence was refused by the Court on the ground that the murder was not premeditated and he was not considered to be a threat to society. He was released on parole to attend some private matters. However, he was seen partying in a club during the extended parole period. In 2009 he returned to the Tihar Jail.


In 2010, the Supreme Court approved the sentences. However, he was released from jail on 2nd June 2020 on account of good behaviour. This has raised the question, “Whether justice was served with the premature release of the culprit?”


5. THE BEERMAN KILLINGS (2006-2007)

A chain of seven murders with every dead body left with a beer bottle next to it!

In October 2006, the dead body of a taxi driver was recovered near the Marine lines station in Mumbai. This was followed by a pattern of multiple deaths of victims. Many of the same was found naked which indicated sexual assault leading to the belief that the murderer is a homosexual. The common feature linking all the murders with a single culprit was a beer bottle found at the left side of each body.


In January 2008, Ravindra Kantrole (Abdul Rahim- Name adopted by him after converting to Islam) was charged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860forthe murder of three out of the seven men found dead. Subsequently, he was arrested by the Mumbai police. The prosecution had sought a death penalty for him which was rejected by the Sessions Court stating that it was not a rarest of a rare case. However, he was awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2000/-


In June, he was acquitted in the other two cases registered against him after the prosecution failed to produce substantial evidence against him thus leaving the other murders unsolved.


In September 2009, the Bombay High Court acquitted him in all the murders due to lack of evidence. So many years have passed yet the story of the Beer Man remains a mystery.


6. NITHARI KILLINGS (2006)

Tons of human skeletons were found in one of the drains of Nithari village!

This is one of the most dreadful cases of the year 2006. It involved crucial crimes like kidnapping, abuse, rape, murder, cannabilism (the practice of eating the flesh of other humans), and Necrophilia (raping a dead body). The matter came into the limelight when a chain of children including both girls as well as boys went missing from the Nithari Village of Noida in the year 2005 and 2006. Infinite missing complaints were lodged by the families of the victim but there were no traces identified.


In October 2006, the investigation of the Payal missing case ultimately led the Delhi police to the discovery of the bungalow of Moninder Singh Pandher, a businessman from Noida. To their surprise, many plastic bags filled with human skeletons were recovered from the drains located behind the bungalow.


He along with his servant Surinder Koli was arrested on 29th December 2006. But the mere discovery of the skeletons was not enough to prove their involvement. However, this aroused a fire amongst the general public of the nation and the case was handed over to the CBI in 2007.


In February 2007, Koli confessed that he committed all the murders. He also accepted that he used to take the dead body to the drawing-room, chop the body parts, cook, and eat them.

In the meantime, several orders were passed, changed, and also upheld. In 2017, both were awarded death sentences by the CBI for the rape and murder of Pinky Sarkar, one of the 16 victims. Eleven years have passed and judgments of the other cases are still awaited.


7. AARUSHI –HEMRAJ DOUBLE MURDER CASE (2008)

A 13-year-old girl and a 45-year-old housekeeper were found dead within the Talwar house!

This is one of the most sensational cases that happened in India. The dead body of Aarushi Talwar, a 13-year-old girl was found in her house in Noida, Uttar Pradesh on 16th May 2008 by her parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. She was found lying in a pool of blood with her throat slit and also had injuries on her head. Hemraj Banjade, the 45-year-old housekeeper who went missing was suspected to be the culprit. However, two days later his body also was discovered on the terrace in a decomposed condition. With two murders in one house, the blame shifted to the parents.


On 29th May, the case was handed over to the CBI after the Uttar Pradesh Police was heavily criticized for its incapability in investigating the matter. In 2013, a special CBI Court in Ghaziabad convicted the parents for killing their daughter and the servant. The reason recorded was that they had found both in an objectionable position. They were awarded life imprisonment.


However, the Allahabad High Court overruled the same, and an order for their release was passed in 2017. The CBI has challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has admitted the plea and has issued a notice to the parents and the Uttar Pradesh Government. Till then “Who killed Aarushi?” remains a mystery.


8. SUNANDA PUSHKAR MURDER CASE (2014)

An Indian businesswoman and former Indian diplomat’s wife was found dead in a hotel in Delhi!

Sunanda Pushkar, a distinguished businesswoman and the wife of former Indian Diplomat and politician Shashi Tharoor was found dead in one of the rooms of Delhi’s Leela Palace.


Sunanda was found dead a day after she had a heated war of words with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on Twitter. It was contemplated that Mehr Tarar had a romantic relation with Shashi Tharoor. The tweets revealed Blackberry Messenger messages exchanged between Tarar and Tharoor.


The post mortem revealed that her body had twelve injury marks including a bite mark on her hand. The cause of her death was stated to be unnatural and due to an overdose of drugs and probably alcohol. However, there were no indications of suicide.


This raised several eyebrows on whether she was physically assaulted before her death and whether her husband Mr. Tharoor was involved in the same?

On 6th January 2015, Delhi Police filed a First Information Report. Pushkar’s house help alleged that both the husband and wife had frequent fights and Pushkar had threatened him that she would tell the world his secrets and finish him. In May 2015, a Trial Court allowed the Delhi Police to carry a lie detector test on three suspects. The results of the same were to be kept confidential.


In May 2018, Tharoor was charged with Abetment of suicide and Cruelty under Section 306 and 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 respectively which were denied by him. Recently on 18th August 2021, he was acquitted of all the charges by a Special Court in Delhi giving him a clean chit.

However, the truth behind Pushkar’s death remains a mystery.


9. RYAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL MURDER CASE (2017)

The murder of an innocent 8-year-old made headlines on national media!

The murder of Pradhyuman Thakur, an eight-year-old class 2 student studying in the Ryan International School, Delhi created a stir in the entire nation. He was found dead with his throat slit just outside the ground floor washroom of the school.


Earlier it was speculated by the Haryana Police that the bus driver had killed him in fear of disclosure of the sexual advances made by him to Pradhyuman.

However, the investigation attracted several criticisms and the case was handed over to the CBI on public demand. A shocking fact that was disclosed was that of a sixteen-year-old class 11student of the same school committing the said act. The CBI Officer reported that the murder was planned to avoid an exam that day and also to postpone the parent-teacher’s meeting. However, he did not specifically target Pradhyuman. Upon interviewing more than 125 students it was also discovered that the boy was a porn addict and very aggressive in nature. It was also claimed that the accused boy’s parents were affluent and had managed to make the bus conductor guilty with the support of the school authorities. However, this case is ongoing and the picture is getting murkier day by day, with a long wait for justice.


10. SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT DEATH MYSTERY (2020)

Popular actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai Residence!

This is one of the scandalous cases of 2020. Sushant’s body was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his residence in Bandra. Initial reports considered it as a case of suicide but with a stoke of debates, the case went to be called a cold-blooded murder.


His live-in partner actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, and nearly 33 persons were arrested. Rhea alleged that the late actor used to consume drugs and was undergoing mental health treatment. With allegations on both sides, this case led to a lot of complications.

The matter is handed over to the CBI for further investigation. One year since Sushant’s death and the truth is not out yet. His fans are longing for Justice to date.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

Likewise, there are numerous other murder mysteries unresolved to date in India. Every culprit is left unpunished leaving the families of the deceased to strive even harder for justice. Who is to be blamed? The investigating authorities, The Judiciary? or The entire Criminal Justice System? These questions have also remained unanswered for a long time.