While the police in Madhya Pradesh on Monday claimed to have solved the “murder’’ of RSS activist Himmat Patidar, stating that their probe found he had faked his own murder to claim insurance money, a similar incident of faking one’s own death had taken place in Kerala 35 years ago. The prime accused is still at large, and the case remains an enigma for Kerala police.
According to the police, Sukumara Kurup, who is still on the list of absconding accused, had murdered one Chacko on January 22, 1984.
The body of Chacko, who worked as representative with a film distribution firm, was found burnt in a car near Mavelikkara, in Alappuzha district.
Kurup, then 38, worked with a oil firm in Abu Dhabi and, back home, was allegedly scouting for a person with similar physical appearance to enact a fake death in a bid to claim insurance, which amounted to Rs 8 lakh, from the foreign firm.
According to police, Kurup roped in his driver, Ponnappan, brother-in-law Bhaskar Pillai and a friend named Shahu.
Together they drove around, looking for a man with physical appearance similar to that of Kurup, the police said. On the night of January 21, 1984, they found Chacko, who was looking for a ride home, in Alappuzha, where he lived with wife Santhamma, who was pregnant at the time.
Once he was in the car, Kurup and the others allegedly forced Chacko to take drugged alcohol and strangled the unconscious man to death.
They disfigured the face to conceal identity, placed the body in the driver’s seat and set the car on fire, the police probe found.
The police initially took the victim to be Kurup, but investigations revealed that the body was that of Chacko.
Post-mortem, according to the police, did not show presence of carbon particles in the victim’s respiratory system even though he was prima facie found charred to death.
After confirming Chacko had been killed, and suspecting that Kurup was enacting his death to pocket insurance money, the police launched a massive search for the prime accused — it lasted several years but Kurup remained elusive.
While Shahu turned approver in the case, Pillai and Ponnappan were sentenced to life terms.
Both were released on completion of jail terms.
The case had inspired two Malayalam films: NH 47, and Pinneyum by ace director Adoor Gopalakrishnan in 2016.