A court in Kollam, Kerala, has on Monday convicted 28-year-old Sooraj for killing his 25-year-old wife Uthra by using a venomous snake. The stunning murder case shook the state and beyond and the final verdict has come one-and-a-half-year after the incident. As found guilty of murdering his wife, Sooraj now awaits the sentence, which will be pronounced on October 13.
Sooraj and Uthra had married in March 2018 and according to reports, Uthra was found dead at her house in Anchal of Kollam district on May 7, 2020. She was living with a few disabilities and she had died of a snake bite. However, it wasn't the first incident as in March 2020, she was bitten by a viper and in May 2020, she was bitten by a cobra. While cobra bite her at her residence, she was bitten by a viper at her husband Sooraj's residence in Adoor in the Pathanamthitta district. The back to back snake bites had drawn a notion from the local residents and relatives that Uthra had the wrath of snake (sarppa kopam).
Amid such rumors, Uthra's parents had raised suspicions over her death and approached the police with a complaint to probe her death. The probe has revealed a chilling fact around the murder as the cops had found that Uthra's husband Sooraj has conspired to the murder. It came to the revelation that Sooraj had plotted the crime to kill his wife and executed well under the cover of the snake. He had hired snakes twice from Suresh, a native of Kalluvathukkal, Kollam. He rented a viper snake in March 2020 and let the snake crawl on his plot of biting his wife.
Uthra had eventually got bitten by the snake and she was in bed for 52 days and undergone plastic surgery after the snake bite. However, even after seeing his wife battling for life, Sooraj didn't give up his plan of killing her and this time, he used cobra as his weapon. Uthra was under treatment in Thiruvalla from March 2nd to April 22nd and the police had said that Sooraj had rented a venomous cobra again when Uthra was back home. He paid Rs 10,000 for the snake handler and he let the snake into the house when Uthra was sleeping. As his plan, the cobra had bitten Uthra and injected the venom that was lethal.
As Uthra had already been suffering from the viper bite, the bite from a cobra had worsened her health. Uthra had passed away at 25 in her home in Anchal in Kollam. Two weeks after the death of Uthra, the Kerala police had arrested Sooraj and Suresh, the snake handler, has later become an approver in the case. The crime branch had then arrested Sooraj's father, mother, and sister and they were charged for conspiracy, domestic violence, and destruction of evidence. The probe was going on and two months after Uthra's death, on July 13, 2020, Sooraj broke down in front of the media and admitted that he had committed the crime.
After a hectic investigation, which was led by Crime Branch DSP Ashokan, the probing team had submitted a 1,000- page charge sheet in the case in August 2020, before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Punalur. On the front of filing of the charge sheet, the then rural SP of Kollam has said that Sooraj had refused to admit the crime despite the evidence and the police had then gathered circumstantial evidence that include scientific, experimentation, forensic, and DNA analysis. The officials had also worked with many other departments which is why the police were able to submit the charge sheet within the time limit. Following the detailed investigation and the charge sheet against Sooraj, the final verdict in the case was pronounced on Monday.
Kollam Sixth Additional Sessions Court Judge M Manoj had delivered the judgment convicting Sooraj for killing his wife Uthra by using a snake. Sooraj has been convicted under four sections - 302 (Punishment for murder), 307 (Attempt to murder), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison with intent to commit an offence), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the offence). He was brought to the courthouse from Kollam district jail by 12.10 pm in the midst of heavy security. The prosecution had produced 87 witnesses, 286 pieces of documentary evidence, and 40 other pieces of evidence during the trial.
The judge began proceedings as several people outside the court and across the state were paying attention to the final verdict. Judge Manoj had asked Sooraj whether he had anything to say. Responding to that, Sooraj said he has nothing to say. During the proceedings, prosecutor Mohanraj had appealed to the judge to consider this case as a rarest crime and asked the court to award the death penalty to Sooraj. Following the hearing, the judge found Sooraj guilty of killing his wife by using a snake and said that the quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Wednesday.
Uthra's father Vijaysenan and her brother Vishnu, were inside the courthouse during the announcement of the verdict while her mother Manimegalai was at their home in Anchal, where Uthra was bitten by a cobra. Reacting to the verdict, Kerala DGP Anil Kant has said that this was one of the rarest cases in which the accused has been found guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence. He commended the probing team and said that it was one of the examples of how scientifically and professionally a murder case was investigated and detected. "The case was a difficult one", he added while speaking to the reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. What more heartbreaking is Uthra had an 18-months-old son when she died. Following her demise, Uthra's parents have been taking care of the child.