“He killed her because I gave him the snake,” said snake-catcher Suresh as he reportedly broke down in a Kerala court during the cross-examination in the snakebite murder case. Suresh turned approver in the case, where 25-year-old Uthra was found dead at her parents’ house in Anchal in Kollam district of Kerala on May 7, 2020. She had been bitten by an Indian Cobra, a venomous snake, which Uthra’s husband and prime accused Sooraj had bought from Suresh. The snake enthusiast was an accused in the case until he turned an approver in July.
Suresh’s cross-examination was completed on Thursday at the Kollam Additional District Court. When the defence counsel told Suresh that he did not commit the crime, the latter said Sooraj murdered Uthra only because he gave him the venomous cobra. In May, after he was arrested, Sooraj confessed to having murdered his wife by planting the cobra, which he bought from Suresh for Rs 10,000. A few months prior to that, he attempted to murder his wife using a viper, which was also purchased from Suresh. In his application to turn approver, Suresh reportedly said that he was not aware of the motive behind purchasing the snakes.
Incidentally, although Suresh’s cross-examination in the case registered by the police has been completed, he will still be sent to jail as the Forest Department has filed three cases against him for keeping venomous snakes in his possession. The Forest officials have filed the chargesheet in one of the three cases, reported Manorama Online. According to police officials, Suresh had been allegedly keeping cobra hatchlings to provide customers with 'highly' venomous snakes.
The Forest Department also reportedly said it had found videos of Suresh catching the viper and cobra, which he had sold to Sooraj. Suresh even identified the snakes at the cross-examination on Wednesday. If the Forest Department’s charges against him are proved, Suresh and Sooraj will attract seven years imprisonment under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Uthra’s husband Sooraj had bought the cobra from Suresh and placed it in their bedroom to ensure that it bites Uthra. According to the police, he was present in the room as the snake bit his wife and laid next to her in the bed as she slowly died of the poison
The investigating team, in its chargesheet, said that Sooraj had searched the internet about snakes and poisons and had first zeroed in on a viper snake. He rented the viper snake from Suresh and tried to murder Uthra in March 2020. “She wasn’t able to walk and was in bed for 52 days. She also had to undergo plastic surgery after getting bitten by the viper,” the police said.
Since Uthra recovered from this snakebite, Sooraj decided to use the cobra. “Making her get bitten again with a more venomous snake (Indian cobra) while she had still not recovered from the earlier attempt amounts to brutal murder only,” Crime Branch Deputy Superintendent of Police A Ashokan had told TNM.
According to the police, Sooraj used to take money from Uthra’s parents and wanted to end his marriage to Uthra, who had some physical disabilities.
Meanwhile, the Crime Branch is preparing the chargesheet against Uthra’s in-laws: Sooraj’s father Surendran, mother Renuka and sister Soorya. They were arrested for alleged domestic violence and assisting Sooraj in killing Uthra.
Watch: Suresh being produced in the court