The infamous snakebite murder case in Kerala made further headway with the arrest of the father of the prime accused on Monday.
The police arrested Surendran, father of prime accused Sooraj, after questioning him for hours at his house Parakkode near Adoor in Kollam district.
The case involves the death of Sooraj's wife 25-year-old Uthra due to cobra bite on May 7.
According to police, Sooraj had confessed to the murder. He told them that he bought the snake from a friend, and put it inside the bedroom that eventually bit Uthra.
Uthra had survived Sooraj's previous viper attack on May 2.
Uthra’s gold ornaments found
The police also recovered gold ornaments, believed to be that of Uthra, from the rubber plantation near Sooraj's home. The ornaments were found wrapped in two plastic covers and buried in the plantation.
Surendran spilled the beans about the ornaments during the interrogation.
Sooraj had earlier told the cops that he had taken the gold from the bank locker and sold it.
Uthra's family had gifted 96 sovereigns of gold for her wedding. Sooraj's father had sold off 21 sovereigns and bought an autorickshaw. Sooraj had also sold some of the gold. The remaining jewellery was kept in locker hired jointly by Uthra and Sooraj at a nearby bank.
Sooraj was trained to handle snakes?
Sooraj had reportedly received training to handle snakes. Considering the venomous nature and size of both the snakes which had bitten Uthra, it is not possible to handle them without training. In the first instance, Sooraj was able to put the viper back into the plastic tin after it attacked Uthra. He was also able to handle the cobra with ease in the second attack.
Also, the structure of both the homes is such that it was unlikely that snakes would enter the buildings. Uthra suffered the first snakebite when she was in the bedroom on the first floor of Sooraj's house. The viper had to slither across the smooth tiled floor and up the 15 steps to reach the first floor.
According the investigation team, Sooraj had bought the venomous snake from an acquaintance and orchestrated the murder with a snakebite while Uthra was in a pill-induced slumber.
Sooraj was able to cover-up the first instance of viper attack. The relatives were informed only after Uthra's health condition deteriorated. The sister had telephoned Sooraj's friend and took Uthra to the hospital. The family in their statement to the police said that they got to know about the snakebite only after they were informed by the doctor. But there were discrepancies in the statements of Sooraj's kin.
The police have also found evidence to prove that Sooraj had sought the help of snake-catcher Chavarcode Suresh to cover-up his role in the case.
Sooraj had procured both the viper and cobra from Suresh.
When he felt that the cops were closing in on him, Sooraj reportedly called up Suresh and asked him not to tell the police about the snakes he bought from him. Both of them have conceded to this during the interrogation. Sooraj had made the call using a close friend's phone. The police have collected the phone call records and the crucial statements.
The cops have also recorded the statements of the doctors, staff, kin and eyewitnesses.
Domestic violence & dowry harassment
Meanwhile, the cops have begun a probe against Sooraj and his family over domestic violence and dowry harassment. Women's Commission had taken a suo motu case and sought a report from the Pathanamthitta district police chief.
Special Branch DySP R Jose has been tasked to carry out the investigation. The team led by Jose had gathered evidence from Uthra's family and her neighbours. They then went to Sooraj's house and took the statements of his family and neighbours. Sooraj's mother Renuka and sister Soorya were also questioned late into the night. The officers said that their statements were contradictory.
The senior cop is likely to submit a report to the district police chief on Tuesday.