The saga of Smitha George, stretching from Kochi to Dubai and the US, may finally be drawing to a close.
Nine years after the newly wed “disappeared”, allegedly with her lover, nearly a decade after her family began seeking answers, and two months after her ex-husband was arrested in a related “forgery” case, a body lying in a morgue in Sharjah since September 3, 2005, has been prima facie recognised as hers.
Then 25, Smitha had got married to Chirakkal Valiyaparambil Sabu alias Antony, then working with a marine engineering firm in Dubai, in May 2005. On September 1 that year, she flew to Dubai to be with him.
Just two days later, Smitha went missing. Antony, then 29, told police and Smitha’s family that he had recovered a letter purportedly written by Smitha, in which she said she was deserting him to join her lover, a doctor from Kerala. He also sent Smitha’s family in Kochi a copy of the letter.
The same day, September 3, 2005, an unidentified body of a woman was admitted into a hospital morgue in Sharjah.
In the years since, there was no news of Smitha despite her family’s best efforts, while nobody came for the body in the morgue.
Meanwhile, Smitha’s father Alasakkodathu George had his suspicions about Antony’s version. A week after she went missing, Smitha’s first cousin Maxson, who also worked in Dubai, went to Antony’s flat. Maxson allegedly found another woman staying with him. A scuffle took place between them and Antony filed a complaint against Maxson, after which he was jailed for a year.
George, who has one more daughter, went to police. When they could do little, he moved the High Court, which directed the Indian Embassy in Dubai to publish photographs of Smitha in local dailies.
In between, Antony came to Kerala and procured a legal divorce from Smitha on the grounds that she had an extramarital relationship and had left him. Later, he married again and flew to the US to take up a job as fabricator in the marine engineering field.
After George approached Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for help, the Crime Branch of the police took over the probe in 2012. One of the first things it did was a forensic examination of Smitha’s “letter” to Antony. They concluded that the letter had been forged.
In February this year, the Crime Branch arrested Antony on charges of forgery. DySP (Crime Branch) Biju Stephen says they tactfully got Antony back from the US and arrested him.
He adds, “After the arrest, we directly apprised the Dubai police about the latest developments. However, they declined to pursue the case.
Since taking up the case thorough Interpol was time consuming, we decided to seek the help of a lawyer in Dubai.’’
So Smitha’s family arranged an advocate in Dubai to file a fresh complaint, which detailed the arrest of Antony. Soon after the Dubai police reopened the case on the basis of this, they stumbled upon the unidentified body lying in a Sharjah morgue since 2005.
When the photos of the body were sent to Kerala, Smitha’s family broke down. The body, they told the advocate, was hers.
Police are looking to establish this scientifically now. “Blood samples of family members have been collected by the advocate who came down from Dubai. If the DNA result proves that the body is of Smitha, police will take further steps,” says Stephen.
The Dubai police have also identified the woman who was allegedly found staying in Antony’s house after Smitha went missing.
Antony, who is in judicial custody, moved a bail application in the high court last week. He continues to stick to his stand that Smitha left him for her lover.
George has since moved a petition seeking to be impleaded in the case, and opposing Antony’s bail application, alleging that Smitha was murdered by him with his “lover”.
In his petition, George has also said that Smitha had gone to Dubai with 38 sovereigns of gold ornaments given at the time of her marriage.