Hiding behind a fake Facebook profile with a seemingly innocuous name – ‘Sreedevi’ – was a man out on bail for the brutal rape of a senior citizen and one who would convince a couple that “human sacrifice was needed for their financial well being”. Muhammad Shafi alias Rasheed, the main accused in the murder and mutilation of two women in Kerala, was nothing but a pervert and sadist, police said.
But, for his neighbours in Kochi, Shafi was a grocery store owner and formerly a truck driver. Though they did not interact much with him and his family, his neighbours never expected a self-proclaimed occult practitioner, rapist and human trafficker to emerge from behind the facade.
Here is all you need to know about the alleged criminal mastermind behind Kerala’s ritual killings case:
- Police said Mohammed Shafi, the main accused in the ‘human sacrifice’ case in which two women were murdered at a house at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district, is a pervert. Ernakulam city police commissioner C Nagaraju said on Wednesday Shafi was a history-sheeter, and used the irrational fear of the accused couple to create a pretext that human sacrifice will solve their financial issues.
- According to police, Shafi has numerous cases stacked up against him, including theft and rape. “At least, 10 cases have been registered against him in the last 15 years. In one of the cases, a 75-year-old was raped and injured with a knife in various parts of her body. In this case of Elanthoor, the two victims were injured in private parts in a similar manner,” Nagaraju said, adding, “basically, he is a pervert and a sadist… causing injury, harm and death. He will make up any story, trap anyone…”
- Shafi had created a fake Facebook profile by the name of ‘Sreedevi’ to lure and trap the accused couple, Bhagaval Singh and Laila. He contacted Singh through Facebook Messenger, praising his haiku and convincing him to contact an occultist to seek help for financial troubles.
- Once the criminal mastermind had convinced the couple to contact such a person, ‘Sreedevi’ introduced the two to Shafi who began making regular visits to their home in Elanthoor and called himself Rasheed. To the local residents, who held Singh in high regard, they just seemed to be regular visits for treatment. Soon, the trio formed a strong bond.
- Police sources said there were numerous gory details preceding the murders as well, such as the fact that Rasheed told the couple that he would need to have sexual intercourse with Laila in the presence of Singh at their house. Blinded by the promise of wealth and money, the couple gave in. The sources claimed that Singh would witness Rasheed performing sexual acts on his wife “with folded hands”.
- Police said Shafi then told the couple to carry out a ‘human sacrifice’ ritual to solve their financial problems. The first murder was committed on June 8 and, days later, Shafi told the two that the evil spell cast on them was so strong that they were unable to gain benefits after the first sacrifice. This then led to the killing of the other woman on September 26. He not only played the role of an agent in both the cases, but was also instrumental in getting the job done. Police said the bodies were not in one shape as they had been chopped into pieces and buried.
- The chopped body parts of the deceased were exhumed from the premises of the couple’s house at the village in Pathanamthitta on Tuesday. Sources familiar with the probe said that the accused couple was told by the prime accused, Shafi, that eating cooked human body parts would help them preserve youth.
- In details accessed by News18, it has been learnt that the accused woman, Laila, told police the gruesome details of the killings, where the flesh of the victims was eaten after the ‘human sacrifice’ ritual as part of black magic. The flesh of one of the victim’s front rib was missing, police sources said. They added that Shafi suggested to the couple that eating cooked human body parts would preserve youth. The probe also found that Shafi “got high” on watching blood and the act of mutilation, sources said.
- Police further said Shafi was a school dropout, who acted as an “agent” to bring women to the massage therapist couple. The two murdered women were not the only ones he had brought to the couple’s house in Pathanamthitta. There were others in the past. Police said Shafi promised them roles in an adult film for money. One of the women was strangled, beheaded and chopped into 56 pieces and her remains were kept in a bucket, police told NDTV. Laila strangled the other woman and cut off her breasts, police added. “Shafi committed acts of sexual perversion on the women. He supplied women for sacrifice and cannibalism to clients,” Nagaraju was quoted as saying.
- Shafi’s current place of residence is Kochi’s Gandhi Nagar, where he was living with his wife and two daughters. He owned two vehicles, including an SUV. One of his daughters is married. According to a report by New Indian Express, a local resident said Shafi would often get into heated arguments with his wife and even beat her up several times.
Read all the Latest News India and Breaking News here