Joined: 30 November 2010
Joined: 30 November 2010
Joined: 25 January 2012
The chilling murder came to light late on Thursday evening, 20 days after the incident, as the accused confessed before the police unable to bear the guilt.
Lokesh Chandra Das (31) had met the victim Tamar Farha Abraham (who held dual citizenship of Israel and Sweden) in Rishikesh four years ago at a yoga camp. They became friendly and later on started a relationship. The relationship later turned sour leading to the murder, police say.
Das was on Friday sent to 15 days in judicial custody. He is married to an IT professional, Jyothi Vaidyanathan, and they have a one month old baby. They lived in a luxury apartment on Kanakapura Road on the city's outskirts.
The police said that according to the confession statement Tamar, 28, had come to visit Lokesh on April 15. After a heated argument Lokesh hit her with a blunt metallic object. She fell to the ground immediately after the blow. All this ensued between the two while Lokesh's wife and child were locked up in another room.
A shocked Lokesh then hid Tamar's body in another room and sent his wife and child to his mother-in-law's house in Nagarbhavi locality without explaining what transpired. Later in the night, he returned to the apartment and strangulated Tamar to ensure that she was dead.
"The next morning, Lokesh purchased a high capacity refrigerator forRs.30,000 and stuffed Tamar's body into it.
He claimed that he hid the body to ensure that it did not decompose quickly," police added.
In the subsequent days, he evaded his wife's queries over the quarrel with the Israeli woman. She grew suspicious as Lokesh would not let her visit their apartment. Eventually, he told his wife the truth, who convinced him to surrender before the police.
The role of Jyothi in the incident has been ruled out. The police have already informed the offices of the Swedish and Israeli high commissions.
Joined: 25 January 2012
Kumar's prize find was Zahida's personal diary. "She is shoot (SIC) dead in front of her house," said the entry for August 16, 2011, the day of the murder. It added: "I was very depressed since from the early morning... all of sudden Ali (Saquib Ali 'Danger', the man who allegedly hired the hitmen) called up around 11:15 that Mubarak ho sahib (Congratulations), now we did it in front of her house." Zahida noted that she confirmed the murder by sending an employee to Shehla's house to double-check. "Then I became so relaxed."
This unlikely triangle involved a besotted Zahida, married into one of Bhopal's richest Bohra families; a flirtatious Singh, son of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Bihar governor Govind Narayan Singh; and an aggressive Shehla, an event management professional who had transformed herself into a persistent RTI activist. On the day of her murder, Shehla was scheduled to attend an Anna Hazare rally. The murder startled and shocked sleepy Bhopal, caused Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to order a cbi inquiry within three days and forced Singh's resignation as state BJP vice-president.
CBI ruled out Vijay's involvement in the murder but is still investigating Singh's place in the drama. On March 24, Singh was given a polygraph test, where he bragged about his relationships with Shehla and Zahida, as well as other women. What emerges is this: Singh was playing a dangerous game with Zahida, stoking her jealousy by pretending that he was still in a relationship with Shehla. This fuelled Zahida's obsession with Shehla, whom she repeatedly mentioned in her diary, so much so that she was paying Shehla's domestic help, Irshad, to keep tabs on her.
CBI interrogators decided to exploit obvious cracks in the Singh-Zahida relationship. They confronted Singh with the explicit CD they had recovered from her office. Singh was devastated as he had no inkling that Zahida had recorded their encounters. He begged them not to disclose the existence of the CD, and had nasty things to say about Zahida. The CBI officials secretly recorded Singh's response and showed it to Zahida, who then knew it was all over with him. Realising that she was alone in the fight, Zahida included him in the conspiracy to kill Shehla. She blamed Singh for instigating her to kill Shehla, and claimed that he introduced Saquib Ali 'Danger' to her. Ali is a local goon who allegedly hired hitmen Irfan and Tabish Khan to kill Shehla.
|THE CASE TRAIL|
Investigations by CBI went handin-hand with arrests of hitmen in Uttar Pradesh
. AUGUST16,2011 Shehla Masood is shot in Bhopal.Police suspect suicide.
. August 19,2011 The case is handed over to CBI.
. September 3,2011 CBI registers a case.It rejects suicide,works on murder angle.
. February 28,2012 CBI arrests Zahida Parvez in Bhopal and Saquib 'Danger'in Delhi.Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh Police arrests shooter Irfan in Kanpur.
. February 29,2012 CBI gets diaries and video recordings confirming Zahida's relationship with BJPMLA Dhruv Narayan Singh.
. March 2,2012 CBI arrests Saba Farooqui,an associate of Zahida,as co-conspirator.
. March 13,2012 Singh resigns as vice-president of the Madhya Pradesh BJP unit.
. March 18,2012 Uttar Pradesh Police STF arrests Tabish, who drove the motorcycle Irfan rode pillion on before and after the shooting.
. April 11, 2012 In Indore,Zahida answers in the affirmative to media queries whether BJP leaders Tarun Vijay and Singh were involved.
. April 23-30,2012 CBI decides to not make public or submit in court intimate photographs and videos unless compelled. It exonerates Vijay of murder and admits no evidence against Singh.
. May,2012 CBI takes notice of Shehla's father's suspicion of Singh's hand in the murder,will make another attempt to find evidence against him before they file a chargesheet by month-end.
As chairman of Bhopal Development Authority between 2003 and 2007, Singh is said to have helped Shehla in business. She also worked with Uday Cultural Society, of which Singh was patron, to jointly organise Mud Challenge car rallies in Bhopal. Mutual friends talk about a virtual makeover Singh had at her behest, losing weight and sprucing up his wardrobe. Singh was clearly in love.
Zahida is from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, where she did a course in interior designing before marrying Asad Parvez, 42, a qualified engineer and mba from US, in 1997. Asad helped her start an architecture firm in Bhopal, which got a lucrative contract for highway kiosks thanks to Singh, who used his influence as a legislator and chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Corporation.
CBI has also arrested Zahida's assistant Saba Farooqui, 25, on suspicion of being an accomplice. Extremely close to Zahida, she told cbi that she had tried to warn 'Appi' several times about the consequences of what she was doing. She paid no attention. Zahida had become so obsessed that she recently purchased a bungalow in Koh-e-Fiza, an upper-class Muslim locality, barely 100 metres from Shehla's house. This was the bungalow used by Zahida's henchman Irfan and his associates to keep tabs on Shehla's movements before shooting her at pointblank range.
If Vijay's reaction saddened him, Singh's left him shell-shocked. "I called up Dhruvji immediately after the incident thinking he would help us with things. I told him Shehla is no more. Somebody has killed her. There was absolutely no response from him. Just silence; and then the phone line went dead. I was taken aback by his reaction, or rather the lack of it," recalls Sultan.
Shehla had distanced herself from Singh as her friendship with Vijay grew. Vijay told India Today that Shehla was a "very close friend" and he shared an "intellectual relationship" with her. He admitted that he had worked on many projects with her in Srinagar, Kolkata and Delhi, where she managed events mainly for Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation of which he is the director. The programmes were organised to mark the birth and death anniversaries of the BJP ideologue.
Joined: 25 January 2012
CHENNAI: One of the most high-profile passion crime cases in recent years reached its logical end on Thursday, when the Madras high court sentenced the founder of the Saravana Bhavan chain of hotels, P Rajagopal, to life imprisonment.
Originally sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment by a sessions court, the disgraced hotelier and five of his henchmen will now serve a life term for the abduction and murder of Prince Santhakumar in 2001. Significantly, the court set aside the Rs 55 lakh fine imposed on Rajagopal, and instead asked him to pay a total of Rs 30,000.
In the 1990s, Rajagopal, under the advice of an astrologer who predicted a lifetime of riches, madly wooed Jeevajothi, daughter of a Saravana Bhavan employee. The hotel chain owner wanted Jeevajothi, barely 20 then, to become his third wife. But when he failed in his advances, he plotted the murder of the man she eventually married, Prince Santhakumar, a maths teacher.
Over the years, he tried to wean Jeevajothi from her husband but when that failed too, the hotelier directed his eight henchmen to abduct and murder Santhakumar in October 2001. Santhakumar's body was found in Kodaikanal.
Jeevajothi's police complaints and statements, besides other circumstantial evidence and the depositions of the henchmen, firmly linked Rajagopal to the murder, resulting in a 10-year imprisonment in April 2004.
While the hotelier and others challenged their conviction and sentence, state public prosecutor Raja Ilango sought enhancement of their sentence.
On Thursday, a specially constituted division bench comprising Justices Prafulla Kumar Misra and R Banumathi said there was strong motive, and previous efforts to get rid of Santhakumar by hook or by crook. It observed: ''The abduction of Santhakumar, followed by his unnatural death and discovery of the dead body, coupled with the Sphinx-like silence of the accused persons, constitutes a very strong and unsnappable chain of events, unerringly pointing towards all the accused persons.''
Rejecting defence arguments that there was an inordinate delay in Jeevajothi approaching the police, the court said she did make certain allegations relating to the conduct of her parents, more particularly her mother. Also, her father had worked under Rajagopal and had benefitted from the helpful attitude of his owner.
''Under such circumstances, a girl aged about 21 years would be naturally hesitant to file complaint, making allegations not only against the benefactor, but also against her own parents,'' they said, adding that Rajagopal was also very rich and influential. ''Therefore, we do not think there was any unnecessary and undue delay.''
Faulting the trial court for having sentenced the accused for an offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the judges said that in the absence of two exceptions — sudden provocation and right to self defence — a lesser sentence was not justifiable in this case.
''Conviction under Section 304(I) of IPC is not appropriate, and once they are found guilty under Section 302, the sentence could be either death sentence or life imprisonment.'' Making it clear that life term would suffice as it did not rank among rarest of rare cases, the judges said, ''We do not find any justification in imposing a huge fine on Rajagopal.''
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