BENGALURU: May, 1991 Shakereh Namazi murder case was a murder most foul. For the first time DNA testing was done to identify the victim and the process of exhumation was videographed. On May 28, 1991, the granddaughter of former Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, Shakereh Namazi was buried alive in the backyard of her sprawling house on 81, Richmond Road by her second husband Murli Manohar Misra alias Swami Shraddhananda, who was for a long time eyeing her property.
Shraddhananda had sedated Shakereh after lacing her tea with sedatives before burying her alive. Besides him, the last people to see Shakereh in the company of her husband were their house help Raju and his wife Josephine. Shakereh was not seen or spoken to by anyone after that. She was 40. Three years later, on March 30, 1994 her skeletal remains were exhumed from the backyard of her house after one of her daughters from her first marriage with a former Indian diplomat Akbar Khaleeli had filed a missing complaint at the Ashoknagar police station on 10 June 1992.
Under intense interrogation Shradhdhanand confessed to having killed Shakereh and narrated the details. The murder case was cracked by the then constable, CCB, Mahadeva, who had used old-world police training to best use and had got the first and strong leads from a servant, who over liberal amount of drinks, boasted to Mahadeva about how he had blackmailed Shradhdhanand for keeping his secret.
During exhumation Shakereh’s mother Gauhar Taj Namaze had identified a red stone ring and two black rings, which may have slipped out of her decaying fingers inside the wooden box as belonging to her daughter. Josephine identified the nightgown that was found around the skeleton as belonging to her employer. The trauma of Shakereh’s family on seeing the bones of her wrist curl around the mattress as a last ditch effort to come out of her coffin was devastating amid the stench of death and decay.
Shakereh had four daughters from her first marriage. She first met Shraddanand in 1983 when she and her family visited the erstwhile Nawab of Rampur in New Delhi. Shradhdhanand was adept in managing urban landed estates. He was asked to come to Bengaluru to help her sort out her property issues. Khaleeli was posted as a diplomat to Iran around this time. Shradhdhanand came to Bengaluru and moved into a part of her house, to assist her with property management. He started working on her alleged ‘desire’ for a son and convinced her that with his occult powers he could make her beget a son. In 1985, Shakereh and Akbar Khaleeli got divorced. Shakereh got married to Shradhdhanand on 17 April, 1986. In 1987 he managed to get general power of attorney over his wife’s property. Greed made him insecure as he saw Shakereh interact with her daughters. He planned to murder her.
On May 21, 2000, a Bengaluru sessions court awarded the death sentence to Shraddhananda, which was confirmed by the Karnataka High Court in 2005. In 2008, the SC modified the sentence from death penalty to life imprisonment without remission. In 2011, Shraddhanand, was transferred from Central Prison at Parapanna Agrahara, Bengaluru was transferred to Bhopal Central prison in Madhya Pradesh – his home state on his request.