Mahanand Naik has a gentle face and tender eyes. But beneath the calm demeanor is a cold-blooded rapist and killer.
Naik, arrested by the Goa Police on April 21, has allegedly confessed to having raped and murdered 16 women in as many years.
Inspector CL Patil of Ponda police station told HT on Monday that Naik, who hails from this town 30 km from Panaji, was initially arrested in connection with a rape case. But by May 5, he had confessed to having raped, robbed and killed five women. Twenty days later, he’d added nine more to his list. On Sunday, he told the police about two more women he’d killed.
He has since spelled out in detail his role in the murders since 1994. Patil said the motives were money and sex. “We fear the figure might go up.”
Naik’s interrogators believe he has no remorse. “He appears quite normal. But the unusual is noticed when he spells out his crime without bating an eyelid,” said Tony Fernandes, Superintendent of Police, North Goa.
“He is a maniac. He has no repentance,” added Patil.
Naik’s first victim, Darshana Naik, was found hanging from a cashew tree in 1994. The police had registered a case of suicide at that time.
His latest admission was to the murder of Bhagu Upsakar and Nirmala Amonkar in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Both hailed from Ponda and figured as missing in police files.
Naik targeted poor women in the 25-35 age group. “He’d hang around bus stands and identify a not-so-good-looking unmarried woman. He’d strike a rapport with her and later entice her by proposing marriage,” Patil said. He said most of the women fell for his sweet talk.
Naik then got into a physical relationship with his victim, and asked her to meet his mother. “Naturally, the woman would dress up and wear jewellery to meet the mother-in-law.”
He then took the woman to a secluded spot, strangled her and took away the jewellery, which he sold to a jeweller in Ponda for a few thousands. Patil said the jeweller has been arrested.
The killings went unnoticed since Naik left little or no clues. “Firstly, he would request his victims not to tell their families about the relationship. Secondly, in most cases, the victims’ bodies were found in jungles in highly decomposed state,” Patil said.
“He’d take just a week to select a target and murder her. No one ever saw him moving around with a woman other than his wife,” Patil added.