Kollam: Sooraj S Kumar, the mastermind of the chilling snakebite murder case reported from Kerala a few years ago, is set to serve his entire life in the prison. The manner in which Sooraj committed his wife Uthra's murder by making a cobra biter her, after two botched attempts earlier, made it ‘the rarest of the rare’ as per the observation of the Kollam Additional Sessions Court Judge M Manoj who awarded him double life sentence the other day.
It was a cold-blooded, calculated and cunningly planned murder that was attempted earlier not once, but twice using a viper.
During the third time, Sooraj was not ready to take any chances. He bought a highly poisonous king cobra from snake charmer Chaavarukavu Suresh. Suresh gave him a highly ferocious cobra which used to lay and incubate eggs. To make the snake more vigorous at the time of the attack, Sooraj didn't give any food to the snake for one week before the crime.
Sooraj spent a lot of time searching internet for information on how to kill a person using snakes. He constantly viewed YouTube videos. He got the phone number of Suresh from one of the videos. He made a call to Suresh on February 12, 2020. He invited Suresh to his house in Parakod near Adoor, for giving him a study class on snakes. He demanded highly poisonous viper on the pretext of using it for ending the snake scare at his fish rearing unit in the house. In a swift move, Suresh reached his home and gave him a viper for Rs 5,000.
After studying the snakes for some time, Sooraj made his first try on Uthra on February 29. He kept the snake at the staircase towards the first floor. He kept his mobile phone nearby and came back to the ground floor. He asked Uthra to go and bring his mobile phone. Uthra got frightened while seeing the snake and came back.
Sooraj put the snake back in the sack.
On March 2, he made the second attempt. Uthra was given a mango juice laced with grounded sleeping pills. He then released the snake near the body of the sleeping Uthra. Inorder to ensure prompt biting, viper was beaten by a rod. Uthra came to know about snake-bite later. The snake was thrown outside by Sooraj using the rod. She underwent treatment for 56 days and later reached her house at Anchal in Kollam district for further rest.
Third time lucky
Sooraj started planning for the third attempt with utmost care after two of his bids went awry. He bought a king cobra this time from Suresh for Rs 5,000. He made the snake bite on her left palm while she was sleeping. Sooraj was with her in the bedroom till morning as though nothing had happened. Later, Uthra's mother found her lying unconscious in the morning. She had in fact died by envenomation.
Other similar cases
Being the first-of-its-kind reported case in Kerala and the fourth in India, the Uthra murder case has found a place in the syllabus for the training of IPS officers. In all the four murders committed using snakes in India, the accused were close relatives.
The same kind of cases were earlier reported from Nagpur, Pune and Rajasthan. In the first two cases, the accused were let off by the court. In the case that occured in Rajasthan where a homemaker Subodha Devi was killed using a snake, his daughter in-law and her paramour are the accused. The trial is going on in the case.
In the case that happened in Nagpur in which husband and wife aged 84 and 78 years respectively were killed, there were totally five accused, including their youngest son.
The killing of the 40-year-old Thabuji Sitharam in Pune was also on the similar lines. When he died, his wife was present. The allegations of murder were raised by the relatives three years after the incident. The wife was among the accused who were tried in the court. But they were all acquitted as the prosecution could not find the snake which was used for killing Tabuji.