Karnataka Police have arrested 46-year-old Mohan Kumar alias Anand on charge of killing 19 women by giving them cyanide pills after having sexual affair with them.
Those killed included a female Maoist on whose head the Karnataka Police had announced a Rs one lakh reward. Kumar killed her by giving the cyanide pill. Kumar was arrested on October 21 by Bantwal police near Deralakatte on charges of murdering these women. On Friday, he confessed to having murdered another 25-year-old woman named Leelavathi, taking the total number of his victims to 19.
Leelavathi was identified as a Maoist by police in 2005 and Rs one lakh reward was put by police on her head. She was then 21-year-old and was working in a telephone booth in Poonjalakatte village in Bantwal taluka, a police official said.
Police said, Leelavathi was lured by Kumar in the same manner in which he trapped other gullible women, through the promise of marriage, establishing of physical relationship and ultimately the cyanide pill, which he used to give them saying it was to prevent pregnancy.
Mohan Kumar alias Ananda (46), is a resident of Kanyana in Bantwal taluk. He had been serving as a teacher in a primary school near Angadi in Kanyana in Bantwal taluk, on a temporary basis from 1980 and quit his job in the year 2003. After quitting his job, he got engaged in criminal offences since 2005, snuffing away the lives of 19 young girls till 2009.
He used to earn the confidence of the girls by offering to marry them. He married the girls who got trapped by his innocent façade and sweet words. As pre-planned, he would kill the girls a day after the marriage by offering them cyanide tablet, claiming it to be a medicine to prevent pregnancy.
The confession of killing of 19 women by serial killer Mohan Kumar has sent shock waves among the people of undivided Dakshina Kannada District for whom the revelation is yet to sink in.
That Mohan Kumar could get away with his heinous crimes for the past five years is shocking and has giving rise to many speculations on the collective failure of police and also that of society.
Mohan Kumar picked up his victims with excessive care. Most of his victims were from economically weaker sections and were in the age group of late 20s and early 30s. A glib talker Mohan zeroed in on his victims in public places and charmed his way into their hearts with the promise of marriage without dowry.
Assistant superintendent of police (ASP) of Puttur Dr Chandragupta who led the probe that netted in Mohan Kumar says “The idea of lack of marital prospects must have prompted them to acquiesce to the idea of marrying without dowry”.
Dakshina Kannada superintendent of police Dr Subramaneyeshwar Rao says: “We are focusing on strengthening the co-ordination between districts with regard to sharing information especially with regard to investigations into unidentified bodies and those cases of missing persons”.
“A little effort on the part of the police in finding the common link of girls missing with cash and jewellery and their mysterious deaths in toilets, many of them in Mysore police limits would have pointed the needle of suspicion towards Mohan Kumar long back,” he said.
When asked whether it was the lack of effort on the part of police in solving these 19 murders, he said: “One has to understand the difficulties involved in such cases especially when family members of victims do not come forward with adequate information and sometimes misinform the police that completely dilutes the investigation. In the case of Mohan Kumar's victims, many parents were oblivious that their daughter had an affair with him. Sometimes the information provided about their affairs created more problems than solving it”.
He however said that the police had zeroed in on him much before the Anitha case. It was the Anitha murder case that finally nailed him resulting in his arrest.
The missing case of Anitha of Bantwal taluk took on communal overtones as Hindu organizations exerted pressure on police, suspecting her missing to be the result of ‘love jehad'. This that paved the way for setting up of a special squad under Puttur ASP Dr Chandragupta to go into the details of her murder.
With more skeletons coming out of the cupboard everyday the Mohan Kumar case has certainly created a kind of fear psychosis.
Dr Subrahmanyeshwar says “from the point of view of the public parents have to have some idea about the people with whom their daughters are in contact with. Young girls should take their parents and siblings into confidence and give some information about the men they are in contact with. This is a wake up call for all of us, the public and the police. On our part we will focus on strengthening the inter-district co-ordination in solving unnatural deaths and suicides cases. This case has also strengthens the need to investigate thoroughly all suicide cases or in cases of unidentified bodies”.
Police is now facing the problem of acquiring evidence despite Mohan Kumar's confessions. One Police official said there was no guarantee that Mohan Kumar could be convicted in the absence of circumstantial evidence. There is hardly any evidence to show that he administered cyanide pills to his victims and he could easily retract his confessions during the trial stage.
But criminal lawyer Padma Prasad Hegde says: “There is enough evidence to put him behind the bars or award a death penalty to him. The fact that he was the last to be seen with the victims is enough for the courts to implicate him. He has also confessed to his crimes leading to the recovery of many valuables and linking the deaths of other missing women. There is also practically no explanation from him on why the police charged him. As per the Supreme Court directives these evidences are enough to punish him in the court of law”.