The real-life chase for the real 'Kerala Crime Files' murderer

Biju used to work as a cook at a restaurant and was arrested in 2011 for murdering a sex worker — Andhra native Swapna — at a Kochi lodge.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: When the Malayalam web series Kerala Crime Files was released on OTT in June 2023, civil police officer, Mahesh K C at Ernakulam North Police Station, was deep in the pages of a case diary — the murder which was a real-life version of the movie. However, his task was not to find out the culprit. But to track down Venjaramoodu native Biju alias Liberty Biju — the prime accused in the murder case of a sex worker. He was absconding for the past seven years after being released on bail.

Biju used to work as a cook at a restaurant and was arrested in 2011 for murdering a sex worker — Andhra native Swapna — at a Kochi lodge. Released on bail 90 days after the arrest, Biju worked at various restaurants in Kochi. However, Biju went absconding in 2017. Even after multiple attempts, the police were unable to trace him. And in 2018, the court issued a long pending arrest warrant against Biju.

Fast-forward to 2023, the Station House Officer of Ernakulam North Police Station Prathap Chandran G assigned Mahesh to investigate the case. “After studying the case diary, I was sure it would not be easy to trace Biju. He is an intelligent criminal. I had only a few details to go by — that home address and photograph and the fact that he had a squint eye. However, we did not have his phone number or details of his Aadhar card,” Mahesh says.

In the police investigation, it was revealed that Biju had left his family at a young age and worked at various hotels in Kochi. “He worked at a hotel named Liberty. We suspected that he was in touch with his brother Binu. But there was no evidence to confirm it,” Mahesh says.

With the help of cyber cell, the officer found mobile phone numbers registered in the name of Biju. After filtering for his surname and father’s name, they found 35 matching numbers. “However, none of them belonged to the accused. We also spoke to the postman near Biju’s house and requested him to inform us when any letter arrive under Biju’s name. Similarly, we asked employees at various bars in Kochi and near his native place to inform us if a person resembling Biju arrives there.”

In between the course of these events, Biju’s father and his two close relatives passed away. However, the accused did not arrive to attend their funerals.

Also, a security guard in a Kochi bar contacted the police after spotting a person who resembled Biju. “Interestingly, this man also had a squint eye and had worked at restaurants. But after verifying his address, it was revealed that he is not the accused,” Mahesh says.

A month later, a postman at Biju’s native place informed the officials that recently a postal cover in the name of the accused was delivered at his residence. He told police that there was an Aadhar card inside it. Soon, the officials contacted Biju’s family, who replied that they had not received such a letter.

The police also approached UIDAI for information regarding the Aadhar card issued in the name of Biju with a set of addresses. But it was turned down as it concerned a citizen’s privacy.

Finally, after chasing many leads, the relentless attempt of the police bore fruit when Mahesh approached the cyber cell for a phone number registered in the name of Biju.

“Among the multiple results, one name drew my attention. The number was taken in the name of the person — ‘Biju Bhandari’. I knew that Bhandari means cook in Hindi. We then started tracking the call details,” an excited Mahesh recalls.

There were several phone calls from Kochi, Pune, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to the number. “We checked the phone number from Kochi and tracked it to a place near Ernakulam KSRTC bus stand.”

Soon, the police contacted one of the numbers in the call list — Santhosh, a lottery seller at the KSRTC bus station.

Armed with new information, the police traced the house of Biju in a marshy land behind Udaya Colony.

After leaving Kochi, Biju stayed in Pune, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. He also worked at various hotels in Kochi. When the police reached Biju’s house, he did not show any resistance and admitted that he was the same person whom they were hunting for. He claimed he absconded after failing to pay money to his lawyer.

“Interestingly, he told us that he watched the Kerala Crime Files on his mobile phone and even liked it. He asked whether there would be a second part for the series,” Mahesh smiles.

CasE diary

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