Behind the human sacrifice, four years of planning by alleged mastermind Shafi

A ‘pervert’ who draws sadistic pleasure from violent sexual acts, Shafi is also the prime accused in another case in Puthenkurishu in Ernakulam involving the rape of a 75-year-old.
Mohammed Shafi, the alleged mastermind
Mohammed Shafi, the alleged mastermind

As investigations reveal gruesome details about the murders of two women in the guise of human sacrifice in Kerala’s Elanthoor, what comes to light is the manic mastermind of the first accused—Mohammed Shafi alias Rashid.

A man who studied only up to Class VI, Shafi is said to have left home at a young age and travelled widely, working a variety of jobs. He later got married and has children. Shafi has also lived in most districts in the state, which helped him interact with a variety of people. His acquaintance with the deceased Padmam and Rosily too must have been born out of such interaction, police said.

A ‘pervert’ who draws sadistic pleasure from violent sexual acts, according to the police, Shafi is also the prime accused in another case in Puthenkurish in Ernakulam, which took place in August 2020. Here, a 75-year-old woman was raped and her private parts injured with a knife. He was booked for rape and attempted murder then. Kochi Police Commissioner CH Nagaraju told media on Wednesday, “He draws pleasure from causing injury, harm and even death. That is the level of his perversion.” The women killed in Elanthoor were also similarly attacked, their private parts injured and in one case, breasts cut off.

Shafi would go to any extent to satisfy his ‘perversion’. “Once he sets his mind on something, he will make up whatever story to gain sadistic pleasure,” the Commissioner said. He was also a very crafty person, spinning stories to get things done his way, investigators said. The human sacrifice story that he sold Singh was spun similarly. On both known occasions where Shafi committed acts of brutal sexual violence, he has taken the aid of others, even manipulating them into performing violent acts.

Shafi’s deceptive plan that led to the two murders began as early as 2019. Shafi had a fake Facebook profile under the name ‘Sreedevi’, where his bio read “If you have any financial problems, contact me”. It was in 2019 that he began chatting with the second accused Bhagawal Singh on Facebook, poised as Sreedevi. This profile did not even have a woman’s photo, and all ‘Sreedevi’s’ communications with Singh were via text, according to the evidence collected by the police.

Shafi used the profile to fish for vulnerable persons who would help him in his pursuit of sadistic pleasure. It was the continued interaction on Facebook that helped Shafi identify Singh as a potential aide. Singh, and through him Laila were brought under his trap. “Shafi cast a wide net, and Singh fell into it,” the Commissioner said.

He further said that within a year’s time, Shafi had convinced Singh that human sacrifice would bring financial affluence to Singh and his wife, third accused Laila. Their wish for financial gains was what attracted him to the plan. Nagaraju said that the Facebook chats of Shafi and Singh include detailed discussions on rituals and black magic. He had successfully manipulated the couple to such an extent that they would readily agree to whatever Shafi proposed.

DCP Law and Order, Kochi, Sasidharan said that questioning Shafi was a gruelling process. He initially refused to cooperate and denied all the charges against him. The police then questioned Singh and Laila, and based on information gained from them and other evidence collected, contradicted Shafi’s claims before he confessed to the crime. CCTV footage and mobile phone locations were key in tracing the crime. Sasidharan called Shafi a “criminaloid and habitual offender” who has been booked in eight cases so far, excluding the current one. Criminaloid is a person who projects a respectable façade to conceal a criminal personality.

His past offences include rape, theft and drunk driving, among others. Given his criminal tendencies, it is likely that there are more unreported crimes that Shafi has committed, and the police will conduct further investigations to confirm this. The police said that Shafi’s drug use too will be investigated.

It was the investigation in a missing case filed by Padmam’s sister in the Kadavanthra police station that unearthed the gruesome crime. A blurred CCTV visual of Padmam entering a car is what helped the police trace the crime to Shafi and the couple Singh and Laila.

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