After cyanide killings, Kerala police to probe 7 ‘mystery’ deaths in a rich family
Police said a case has been registered against eight people, including the family’s long-time caretaker Ravindran Nair and a former district collector Mohan Kumar, for allegedly usurping the family’s property by manipulating a willUpdated: Oct 28, 2019 22:42 IST
Police in Kerala have started a probe into the deaths of seven members of an influential family in Thiruvananthapuram following a complaint by a relative, a month after a woman was arrested for killing her kin with cyanide-laced food over 14 years.
Police said a case has been registered against eight people, including the family’s long-time caretaker Ravindran Nair and a former district collector Mohan Kumar, for allegedly usurping the family’s property by manipulating a will.
They added that the mysterious deaths of some of the members of the wealthy Koodathil family over more than 20 years will also come under the investigation.
Prasanna Kumari has alleged in her complaint that her cousins Jayaprakash Nair and Jayamadhavan Nair died under mysterious circumstances and the relatives were not informed about their deaths. She has said the family’s property was grabbed by their caretaker Ravindran Nair after fudging the will.
She also said he illegally transferred some properties to a trust. She said all the seven deaths in the family that took place between 1991 and 2017 were shrouded in mystery.
But the caretaker has said he nursed all the family members well and they gave their properties to him. He said Jayamadhavan had also voluntarily given his property to him while he was alive but the police later found the will was prepared after his death.
He said the family property was worth Rs 30 crore some local residents said it ran into Rs 300 crore.
The Koodathils are an aristocratic Nair family and some of its members were actively involved in the freedom struggle. The faded black and white photos of the national leaders can be seen hung on the walls of the dilapidated house.
“After the initial inquiry, we have found some discrepancies so a special investigation team was formed under DCP (crime) Mohamed Arif to probe the case,” said the state’s director general of police (DGP) Loknath Behra.
Behra, however, said it was “not proper” to compare the Koodathil case with the cyanide killings.
The first to die in the family was Jayashree Nair, the family head Gopinathan Nair’s daughter, in 1991. She collapsed suddenly in the house and died.
Next year, his son Balakrishnan Nair died in a similar manner and in 1993 their uncle Unnikrishnan Nair died in the house. In 1998, Gopinathan Nair died and after 10 years his widow Sumuki Amma passed away in 2008.
Relatives said these were natural deaths because they were aged.
In 2012, another son Jayaprakash collapsed and died and in 2017 the last heir of the family Jayamadhavan also died under similar circumstances.
After Jayamadhavan’s death, Kumari had approached the chief minister and DGP in 2017 seeking a detailed probe into his death.
Though the post-mortem cited some unnatural findings, no subsequent inquiry was conducted.
“We have credible doubts about the last two deaths. The caretaker told both were under treatment for mental illness. When we sought medical reports they were destroyed,” said Kumari.
“Jayamadhavan’s post mortem clearly stated it was an unnatural death. Witnesses also said there were some wounds on his face,” she added.
Kumari said when she asked about the injury marks, the caretaker said they were due to a fall in the bathroom.
“We have been pursuing this case well. But nobody took us seriously. We are happy truth will come out at least now,” she said.
Besides Kumari, an activist Anil Kumar had also filed a complaint after Jayamadhavan’s death.