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Kerala man killed his live-in partner and their daughter in 2011; arrested 11 yrs later

Thiruvananthapuram: A 35-year-old man was arrested in Kerala on Tuesday on charges of killing a woman he was in a relationship with and their young daughter in 2011, a police officer in state capital Thiruvananthapuram who led the investigation into the 11-year-old case said on Wednesday.

Police said the 23-year-old woman, Vidya had learnt just months before her death that Mahin Kannu, the accused with who she had a daughter, was already married and had insisted that he divorce his wife and marry her. Kannu, who had two children with his wife, was reluctant. Police said his wife, Rukiya, helped him kill Vidya and her daughter, and has also been arrested.

Vidya and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Gowri had gone missing on August 17, 2011, shortly after they accompanied Kannu on what they were told was a trip to Vellankani, a pilgrim spot 500km away in Tamil Nadu where the man said they will get married. Instead, he took them to an isolated beach in Colachel area of Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district – it is about 50km from Thiruvananthapuram – where he drowned them and pushed their bodies into the sea.

Vidya’s mother Radha C filed a missing complaint about her daughter and grandchild but they were never found. Mahin told her that Vidhya had relocated to a remote village in Tamil Nadu, a version that the police officers assigned the missing complaint in 2011 also peddled to the family. Radha said her husband, devastated because of his missing daughter, died by suicide two years ago.

The case was reopened two years ago and assigned to the crime branch’s special investigation team led by deputy superintendent of police KJ Johnson. In its initial probe, investigators found that there were gaps in the official version recorded in the case file. Also, it turned out that the initial probe team at the Maranelloor police station allegedly fleeced Vidya’s family telling them that they needed to pay for the team’s visit to Tamil Nadu to look for their daughter.

But the SIT probe picked up pace two months ago after the case featured in an episode telecast by Malayalam news channel Asianet that focussed on the unsolved case.

According to the case pieced together by the SIT, Vidya fell in love with Mahin Kannu in 2008 But after she had a baby, Kannu moved to the Gulf and cut off all ties with Vidya. But after he returned two years later, she located him and persuaded him to again move in with her. They lived together for about six months before her death. It was during this period that she learnt that Kannu was already married and insisted that he marry her, Johnson said.

Johnson said Kannu’s wife Rukiya had selected the isolated spot in Colachel where Vidya and her daughter were killed on August 18, a day after they went on the trip.

It turned out that their bodies did turn up on a beach two days later but the local police officers in Tamil Nadu were not able to identify the bodies. Johnson said Vidya’s mother Radha identified the two from the photographs of the bodies and their clothes taken by the police.

For a decade, Radha had lived with the hope that her daughter and grandchild were alive. She collapsed when she saw the photos. “He (Kannu) gave us the wrong impression that both were safe and alive. We never thought he would have eliminated them like this. He should get maximum punishment,” said the mother.

Johnson said Kannu was “a tough nut to crack” and misled the probe team.

“But we confronted him with scientific evidence and records of phone call details,” said Johnson. He said initially Kannu told them that he had dropped the two near their house after taking them to a hospital. “But the tower locations of his phone showed that he had crossed over to Tamil Nadu through Kaliyakkavila (a border town) at 10pm on same day (Aug 17, 2011),” the police officer said.

Inquiries with the Tamil Nadu police revealed that the body of an unidentified woman and a child were found in Colachel and took the mother to Puthukadai police station to identify the body from the photographs.

Johnson said Kannu finally claimed Vidya jumped into the sea in a fit of rage holding the baby but allegedly confessed in the end that he killed them both.

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