Man arrested for murder, 9 years after wife's death by immolation

Ratheesh | Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: An investigation by the Crime Branch has revealed that a case termed as suicide by the local police nine years ago was in reality a homicide. Crime Branch has now arrested Ratheesh for murdering his wife Aswathy of Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram.

According to Crime Branch officials, the case has many similarities with the one involving Sukumara Kurup. While setting the body of film representative Chacko on fire, Kurup’s brother-in-law Bhaskara Pillai had suffered burns on his hands. Discrepancies in Pillai’s replies regarding the burn injuries led police to crack the mystery behind the murder.

In the Nemom case too, burns on Ratheesh’s hand provided answers to the puzzle.

Aswathy lived with her grandmother after her mother died. She married Ratheesh on her volition and they continued to live in the house owned by her grandmother.

Ratheesh soon demanded that the house and three cents of land where it was located be transferred in his name. Aswathy’s grandmother refused to do so as Ratheesh was a drunkard.

When fights erupted at the house every day over the issue, the grandmother shifted to another relative’s house.

At the time of her death, Aswathy and Ratheesh had two children - aged two years old and two months old. It was when the kids were present in the house that Ratheesh doused Aswathy with kerosene in the kitchen and set her on fire. He told the local police at that time Aswathy had immolated herself.

The local police considered the incident as a suicide. Even though other residents of the area had formed an action council demanding a thorough probe, there was no headway.

Recently, the Crime Branch started investigating cases remaining unsolved for several years and took up Aswathy’s death.

In his statement to local police, Ratheesh said that he suffered the burns while trying to save Aswathy. However, the doctor who conducted the autopsy on Aswathy’s body expressed doubts over the burns. While Ratheesh’s hands were burnt, there were no sign of burns on Aswathy’s hands.

According to the officials, it is the hands that burns first when a person self-immolates. The Crime Branch confronted Ratheesh with these scientific facts and subjected him to an exhaustive interrogation, during which he confessed to the murder.

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