‘Papanasam’ style murder case unravels

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The Elumalai police have arrested three persons, including the son and daughter-in-law of the deceased, in a murder case registered under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act near Usilampatti.

The police said that the accused R. Karuppaiah, his wife Dharma and their friend, Ayyanar, had played a drama on the lines of Tamil movie “Papanasam” in which Kamal Haasan tutors his family about a particular time and date to give false evidence in a murder case. However, the technique that saved the hero’s family in the film, did not help the accused.

A. Rasu, 60, of Uthapuram was found hacked to death in his farm at Thazhaiyoothu foothills on April 22. In a complaint, his son Karuppiah, said his father could have been murdered by a couple, Kottaimalai and his wife, belonging to a different community, following a dispute over a farm land.

The police registered a murder case under the SC/ST (POA) Act against Kottaimalai and his landlord Viswanathan. Kottamalai, along with his wife, pleaded innocence.

“The claims of Karuppiah and his wife made in the complaint turned out to be false on many counts,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Usilampatti), A. Raja said.

Karuppiah had initially said that he was the first to see the body at 6 a.m. when he, along with his friend, came to give food to his father.

Investigation revealed that some local men, who had come to collect firewood, had found Rasu dead. When they alerted Karuppaiah and his wife, the couple did not show any shock and remained very casual.

Karuppaiah also claimed ownership of an adjacent land and had said that Viswanathan of Chennai had attempted to usurp the land but this also turned to be false.

“Viswanathan had rejected the offer made by Karuppaiah and his wife to sell him the land a year back as he found that the land, under maintenance of Rasu, belonged to someone else,” Mr. Raja said.

Suspicion grew stronger when Karuppaiah, his wife, their children and Ayyanar’s family members and relatives made an identical narration of how the murder unfolded.

“Even before we could ask questions, everyone parroted the same time of 3 p.m. (when Karuppaiah returned from the farm the previous day) and 6 a.m. (when the couple came to the farm to find the body),” the DSP said.

On sustained interrogation, Karuppaiah revealed that he and his wife had quarrelled with Rasu the previous day. They had demanded that Rasu give them the 3-acre land. Rasu, who had two wives had said that he would give his land to wards of both wives.

“Following the incident, Dharma and Ayyanar had gone to the farm in the evening and hacked Rasu to death,” the DSP said. Later, they convinced Karuppaiah that if they put the blame on Kottaimalai, they could also get compensation from the government.

“Instead of demanding compensation, the couple had insisted on getting patta for the land maintained by Rasu, to allow shifting the body to hospital,” the DSP said. The police said that call details also helped in nabbing the accused.

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