Kumbalam: The probe into a young man's recent murder here at Nettoor in Kerala's Ernakulam district revealed that his killers plotted the crime in such a way that they could cover up their path well. However, deft handling of the suspects by the victim's kin and subsequent intervention by cops helped to locate the body and unravel a horrific revenge killing over an accident that had claimed the life of an accused's brother. Meanwhile, the family of the youth, who was recovering after that same accident, is distraught over the latest tragedy amid financial mess likely worsened by the previous one.
The body of 19-year-old Kumbalam native Arjun was found in a swamp near the Nettoor railway station on Wednesday, eight days after he went missing.
The day before Arjun went missing, the main accused Nipin had stayed over at the victim's house, his parents said.
"Arjun had prepared tea and gave it to Nipin at the room," Arjun's father Vidhyan told Manorama Online.
The accused behaved very amicably with Arjun and his family members, it is said.
After plotting with co-accused Ronnie, Nipin had turned up at Arjun's house to allegedly take stock of the situation.
Four people, all known to the victim, have been taken into custody for what appears to be a revenge killing linked to a 2018 bike accident in which Nipin's brother died as he rode along with Arjun.
Murder on brother’s death anniversary
Nipin had allegedly carried out the murder in cold blood to avenge the death of his brother Ebin, who was also a friend of Arjun.
Both Arjun and Ebin had met with a bike accident at Kalamassery last year. Ebin died on the spot, while Arjun underwent treatment at a private hospital in Ernakulam for months. It was Arjun who arrived at Ebin's house and took him along on the fateful day. Nipin believed that Arjun did this knowingly to kill his brother.
He planned to take revenge by killing Arjun on the death anniversary of his brother.
On July 2, one of the accused had lured Arjun to a location where Nipin and others were stationed. The group then beat Arjun to death and bruied him in a swamp near Nettoor railway station, police had said.
Drama to nip doubt in the bud
After Arjun went missing on July 2, his friends suspected that Ronnie and Nipin could have attacked him, and informed Arjun's parents. Based on this, Arjun's father Vidhyan called Nipin on the phone on July 5 and asked him come to his house.
Nipin arrived on a bike along with Ronnie. He gave little room for suspicion and interacted freely with Arjun's parents.
"We have not done anything, auntie. Wasn't he a close friend of ours...?" Nipin asked nonchalantly.
He told Arjun's mother Sindu and other relatives that he had not seen Arjun after he went to get petrol the day before he went missing. However, when Arjun's relatives and friends changed the tone and manner of questioning, the duo started making contradictory statements. It was only after someone manhandled one among the accused gang that the truth came out.
Soon, the family decided to approach the police and it was during the police interrogation that the conspiracy was revealed.
"One of the accused, a minor, had gone to pick up Arjun from his home, Sindu said.
After the murder, the accused threw Arjun's phone onto a moving truck and the signal indicated that he was alive. “The accused took a leaf out of the movie 'Drishyam' where the hero threw the mobile phone of the victim onto a truck to deceive the investigators,” the police said.
It is said the accused had killed a stray dog and dumped it near the spot where the body was buried as was shown in the same film. They apparently believed that even if rotten smell emanated from the area, people would assume it to be that of the carcass.
Vidhyan had also initially flayed the police investigation. However, he later changed his stance and said that he was satisfied with the further investigation of the police. He told Manorama Online that he did not have any complaints.
Arjun's mother had said that when they approached the police with the missing complaint, the cops ridiculed them.
Family in dire straits
Vidhyan, meanwhile, said he was pained to hear smear campaigns such as his son was a history-sheeter. Arjun was caught in a case only once, he pointed out.
His parents had taken loan to buy bike for their son. The father had to spend lakhs of rupees to bring back his son to life after the bike accident. Relatives said that their house and property were under the threat of being attached by the bank.
Arjun' father reportedly has debt of over Rs 10 lakh.