Top positive review
Forgotten crimes well narrated
15 November 2018
Some of the Bollywood crime thrillers like Kahani, Drishyam, Gupt, Khiladi , Gumnaam, Jewel thief were super-duper hit. These are still watched multiple times when shown on television. Lesser known thrillers like Manorama six feet under, Ugly and Samay have got rave reviews and have many takers. Even Hollywood thrillers like Psycho, Reservoir Dogs, Dial M for murder, The silence of the lambs and many more are still making people glued to such movies. People stay awake late in the night to watch shows like Crime patrol and Savdhaan India, which are based on true events. Shows like CID and Adalat ran for years.
After net connection bandwidth has taken a surge, the web series have provided audience with a flexible option. After big names of the movie and television industries started making their entry into the digital space, the audience were spoilt for choices. Thrillers like Twisted, Kaushiki and Pratikaar are making people addicted to this new medium and yearning for more on thriller genre.
Have you ever wondered why people enjoy reading and watching thrillers involving murder in India? Why people love to debate on mysterious deaths in television studios? Why there is a clichéd reason for its acceptance? Why there is an unprecedented interest shown by news dailies in running crime stories? Does crime work? Does it sell? The business of news can never ignore three C’s in their shows- cinema, cricket and crime. Criminologists have spent years conducting research on the allure of true crime. One of the key reason is attributed to adrenaline hormone that produces a powerful, stimulating and addictive effect on human brain. People receive jolts of adrenaline while witnessing terrible deeds. It’s like a roller coaster. They experience fear and horror in a controlled environment where threat is exciting but it’s not real. By being in the safety of the couch, one can dig deeper into the darker side of the humanity. It also has something to do with analytical mind that has a huge puzzle laid out before oneself. Our inner content has been repressed by education and socialization. Crime movies function as a relief value. The book here has again bought those high profile deaths into reader’s attention which consumed a lot of space during its reportage, created enough sensation and had readers hooked to the news. What are the inducements for such crimes? Most of the deaths were due to property dispute, lust and affairs. Let’s discuss few of these. Some of these felonies are extremely excruciating. To tell their stories, the author had to delve into their lives and interview friends, family members, doctors, forensic lawyers, lawyers and police.
Ponty Chadda was a liquid baron whose fortunes had reached sky high and dizzying heights. He controlled eighty percent of the alcoholic beverage trade in Uttar Pradesh. He was known for his proximity with influential politicians. His family had invested in real estate, shopping malls, sugar mills and film production and were owner of two franchisees of Indian Hockey League. However, he was at loggerheads with his younger brother Hardeep Singh over property disputes. Both the brothers loathed each other. Both were killed during a shootout in a farmhouse on the outskirts of New Delhi. The sibling rivalry resulted in unprecedented violent acts which pointed towards psychotic behavior. It was the result of envy, mistrust and desire to triumph. Either or both the brothers were avaricious.
Maria Monica Susairaj was an ambitious and struggling actress who wanted to make it big in television and advertising world. Neeraj Grover was a television executive who was involved with a production house. Emil Jerome Mathew was Maria’s boyfriend and was working in the Indian Navy. They were supposed to be engaged soon. Neeraj was helping Maria to set a foothold in the television industry. For Maria, Neeraj was a staircase to success. Soon, the association led to intimacy. The closeness was making Jerome jealous. One such night, Neeraj stayed at Maria’s new apartment. Next day, early morning the doorbell rang and when Maria opened it, to her astonishment it was Jerome. On seeing Neeraj in the bedroom, Jerome became furious and went amok into a frenzy state. There was an argument and scuffle between the two men and finally Jerome stabbed Neeraj to death with a kitchen knife. After that Jerome and Maria had sex. Then Neeraj's body was chopped into multiple pieces in a butchered manner. It was then stuffed into a bag and dumped it at a remote distant location. It was a diabolic, repugnant and gruesome act which angered the nation, even though it was unplanned at the onset.
In the year 1999, a murder of a high profile journalist became a scandal. Top notch politician and police officers were entangled into it. The murder created controversy and shook the national capital. Shibani Bhatnagar was a journalist associated with The Indian Express. She was murdered and was survived by two months old infant and husband who was legal editor of The Times of India. The investigation and related insinuation finally led to the arrest of Haryana cadre IPS officer Ravi Kant Sharma. It was alleged that Shibani Bhatnagar and Ravi Kant Sharma were very close to each other. He would supply her with classified documents and based on that she would publish exclusive and sensational reports. Shibani’s husband had confided that his wife was having an affair with Ravi Kant Sharma. Later Ravi Kant Sharma might have got Shibani Bhatnagar killed because he feared she would expose their intimate relations. A top politician’s name had also popped up. It was getting murkier. Later, Ravi Kant Sharma was acquitted for lack of evidence.
Shakereh Khaleeli was a beautiful grand-daughter of the erstwhile Mysore state. She was an aristocrat lady who led and justified her glorious lifestyle. She could speak in classical Urdu and Queen’s English. Before marriage she acquired properties from her mother which amounted to crores of rupees. Her affluence further increased when she married her cousin Akbar Khaleeli who was Indian diplomat. Her life was on a roll with Shakereh accompanying her husbands on his overseas posting along with their four daughters. Then entered Swami Shraddhananda into Khaleeli family and started working on the lonely Shakereh by initiating her into the mysterious and unfathomable ways of the world. His eyes were however on her wealth and property. She was so infatuated with him that she abandoned her husband and four daughters to marry him. After many years, she again started connecting with her daughters. She was now investing both emotions and finance to her daughters. This closeness made Shraddhananda insecured. He was worried that Shakereh would return to her daughter and he would have to fend for himself. It’s then he decided to kill her. He mixed something in her drink to make her comatose and dumped her alive in the courtyard, which caused her death. The case will go down in the history as the first criminal case where DNA was employed as evidence.
I have been living in Kolkata for the last twenty-five years. One incident that gripped and impacted psyche of the people and polarized the citizen was the death of Rizwanur Rahman. This is the story of a middle class educated muslim youth and wealthy hindu girl Priyanka Todi who had fallen in love and dared to marry. The story is also about a well-connected rich patriarch, high handed police enquiry and finally death on the railway track. The eight days that the couple stayed together, the police interrogated them no fewer than three times. She went to parent house and never returned back. Rizwanur Rahman made repeated request to her in-laws to send Priyanka back but in vain. Meanwhile police force, especially the Anti Rowdy Section (ARS), repeatedly harassed, threatened and even had beaten Rizwanur in order to pressurize him to end his marriage with Priyanka. The tale of love, defiance and death dominated the public imagination of the city. It split the city into various camps. There was a huge public outrage. The upshot is that the rich and mighty have control on the law and can have their way by any chicanery means. The death whether it was suicide or murder is still a mystery. The rigmarole associated with this case ultimately led to nothing.
The death of Sheena Bora, Sunanda Pushkar and Jiah Khan from the book have not found a mention in this review. The book however does not include sensation murders like that of Aarushi Talwar, Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Mattoo and Naina Sahni. It seems only the cases reported by the author are highlighted in the book. One of the common elements discussed in aforementioned cases is that all these killings had taken place in India’s urban areas. Now, are crimes committed in rural areas lesser? If you think the answer is no, then why the crimes committed in rural areas seldom covered in national dailies or front ranking news channels whereas metropolise crimes make it to news headline and prime time shows? In urban crimes, one sees a reflection of the self; the one who gets killed and the one who kills. What drives or motivates the perpetrators to commit such crimes? It has been found that greed, love, hate and lust are major reasons. The author has three decades of experience in print and electronic media. The veteran journalist has proved that why he is rated high in his circle. Though all the cases were known beforehand but it’s the vivid manner in which it’s narrated makes it special. The author has been more thorough giving. Most of the cases created sensation during it’s time. Later the news went from first page to middle page and finally out of public memory. The book helps to revive those lost and forgotten cases from public memory. This presentation of the book speaks of the rigor done by the author.