Two snakebites a young mother sustained in two months and her death unravelled as a murder plotted by her husband in Kerala’s Kollam district.
Police on Sunday arrested Sooraj, 27, a native of Adoor and his friend Santhosh, 47, a snake handler, on charges of killing Sooraj’s wife Uthra, 25, a native of Kollam.
Uthra was recovering at her parents’ house after a viper bit her in the night of March 2 while she was at Sooraj’s house. On May 7, she was fatally bitten by a cobra while the couple were asleep with their one-and-a-half-year-old son.
Uthra’s father was an affluent businessman and mother a school teacher who retired two months ago while Sooraj, who worked in private financial institution, came from lower middle-class family.
Kollam rural Superintendent of Police (SP) Harisanker said the couple had a strained relationship. Sooraj planned to kill Uthra to pocket her gold and marry another person. A family friend of Uthra said her father had given 120 sovereigns of gold to their daughter and used to regularly help the in-law’s family.
Police began a probe after her family doubted Sooraj’s explanation that the snake had slithered in through a window they had kept open because the couple were in an air-conditioned room. They couldn’t believe Sooraj’s version that he did not know that his wife was bitten by a snake even though he was with her in the bedroom. Besides, on March 2, Sooraj withdrew 90 sovereigns of gold ornaments from a bank locker they jointly held.
The SP said Sooraj had close links with snake handlers. Sooraj’s call records revealed he was in touch with snake handler Santhosh. Sooraj’s online activities showed he had regularly viewed YouTube videos on handling snakes.
“He had purchased viper on February 26 and kept the snake in his home. The first attempt was in the night of March 2, but failed because Uthara realised she got a snakebite and was taken to hospital,’’ said the officer.
The officer said Sooraj purchased the cobra on April 24 and kept it at his house. On May 6 evening, Sooraj went to Uthra’s house with the cobra hidden in a bottle. He kept the snake in their bedroom and at night threw it towards Uthra who was sleeping.
After biting the woman, the snake crawled behind a cupboard. He kept himself awake throughout night. In the morning when Sooraj went to washroom, Uthra’s mother noticed her daughter was unconscious. She was rushed to hospital, but couldn’t be saved, the police said.
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