Malappuram: Mysuru-based traditional medicine practitioner Saba Sharif, 60, was killed while being tortured in illegal detention, police said.
Shedding more light into the incident, superintendent of Malappuram police S Sujith Das said those who had abducted him from Mysuru, too, would be arraigned as accused in the case.
Sharif was allegedly abducted in August 2019 at the behest of a Nilambur-based NRI industrialist for getting the secret formula of a panacea the healer had been using to treat piles.
Investigators have collected digital evidence including laptop and pen-drive, the officer said.
Industrialist Shaibin Ashraf, 42, of Mukkatta in Nilambur, his manager Ponnakkaran Shihabuddin, 36, of Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad, Thangalakathu Naushad, 41, and driver Naduthodika Naushad were arrested so far in connection with the case.
Police identified Shaibin as the mastermind in the case. Investigators have found that he had committed crimes earlier, and was adept in meticulous planning.
The case has all the ingredients of a suspense-filled, multi-location crime thriller, including a nail-biting high drama played out in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.
The drama turned out to be the beginning of the end of a nearly two-year-old mystery that shrouded a man-missing case.
The mystery started unravelling with the April 29 suicide drama at the State capital. Five people took the police and public by surprise when they tried to self-immolate themselves after being intimidated by industrialist Shaibin.
Police managed to pacify the men. The case took a flashback to April 24 on which Shaibin, in a police complaint, alleged that six men had robbed him of Rs 7 lakh after holding him hostage at his residence.
Police had arrested one person, Thangalakathu Ashraf, in connection with the robbery. It was later revealed that the suicide drama was reportedly staged by the remaining five robbery suspects. All six were Shaibin's aides who later fell out with him.
Hints of a murder
Once pacified, the men told the police that their lives were in danger. They also stated that they had evidence to prove a murder carried out at Shaibin's behest. The men handed over a pen-drive which had the visuals of the Mysuru healer held in captivity at Shaibin's residence.
Shaibin, meanwhile, refuted the claims the contract (quotation) gang had made in Thiruvananthapuram. The claims were related to certain previous incidents, he told Manorama News.
Even as Shaibin remained in denial mode, police were investigating the claims, and arrested him and four others 10 days later.
Vijayanagar-resident Saba Sharif's family had lodged a complaint with Saraswathipura police in August 2019, saying the traditional healer had been missing. Unknown to the police and Sharif's family, the NRI industrialist's henchmen had abducted and brought him to Shaibin's Nilambur residence. A year later in October, he was killed.
Shaibin's greed to sell the secret formula of Sharif's panacea for piles led to the abduction and gruesome murder, it was revealed. Based on Shaibin's plan, Shihabuddin took the healer from his clinic to Mysuru on a two-wheeler, on the pretext of treating an elderly person who had checked into a hotel in the heritage city.
Later, the gang took Sharif in another vehicle to Shaibin's house at Nilambur. Police found that the healer was chained in a first-floor sound-proofed bath-attached-room.
Sharif refused to part with the secret concoction despite Shaibin and the gang's repeated threats and demands. They allegedly tried every trick, offered him money and subjected him to brutality. He remained tightlipped.
Investigators found that Sharif died while he was brutally tortured. The accused also moved a roller on his legs in a bid to induce bone-crushing pain.
After his death, the gang allegedly cut the body into pieces using a saw and butcher's knife. The body parts were packed in plastic covers, and loaded into a car.
Shaibin and his driver took the car out, while Noushad, Shihabuddin and two others followed in another vehicle. They disposed of the covers containing Sharif's body parts in the Chaliyar from a bridge.
Police said the accused were confident that there won't be any evidence since the river was in spate. They returned home early in the morning, and cleaned up the scene of crime to destroy evidence.
Investigators said police had earlier received complaints against Shaibin. Police would be carrying out an intense probe after collecting all complaints lodged against him, including by those residing overseas.
Police would move a court on Wednesday seeking the custody of the accused for holding an identification parade. A team comprising DySPs Saju K Abraham, K M Biju, Inspector P Vishnu, sub-inspectors Naveenshaj, M Asainar, assistant sub-inspectors Reni Philip, Anil Kumar, N P Sunil, Abhilash Kaippini, K T Aashif Ali, T Nibin Das and Jio Jacob is probing the case.