When Asma* went to invite 80-year-old Maruthi Krishna, her next-door neighbour at Malkajgiri in Hyderabad for a wedding just two days before Eid, it was his son Krishna who answered the door. "The son told me that Maruthi was at his village," says Asma. Asma says she found the answer odd as in all the years she knew Maruthi, he had never visited his village.
"The family was reserved and kept to themselves. His wife, Gaya, son and daughter do not interact much with us. So I didn't think much of it," says the 63-year-old. Even after Eid, Asma did not see Maruthi coming out of the house, but what she did not know was that Maruthi had been killed last Friday by his own son, his body chopped into tiny pieces and stored in seven plastic buckets.
Soon after the wedding and Eid that week, Asma's neighbours from the street behind her residence complained of a foul smell on Saturday. They confronted Asma accusing her family of not properly disposing off the meat cut during Eid and the wedding at her residence. "They thought we had dumped the remains somewhere and not cleared it," said Asma.
The neighbour Aslam* says the smell had got unbearable. "First, there was a whiff in the air but then by Saturday, it grew really strong and unbearable. We just couldn't sit in our home. At first, we thought the foul smell was due to a dead rat or a cat. We searched the whole place and found nothing," says Aslam.
It was on Sunday morning when he noticed a cluster of flies coming out of one the windows of Maruthi's residence, bordering their own.
"The flies were coming from the windows, there were a lot of them coming out of a particular window," said Aslam.
On Sunday, Aslam's sister-in-law Raziya* along with a few of her friends went up to Maruthi's residence to speak to Gaya and her daughter about the smell. The neighbour found it odd when Gaya started being defensive, rude and asked the women to leave, "I asked bhabhi to check their last room to see if anything was dead and rotting there. We just wanted to know what the smell was but the way they reacted was odd," claims Raziya, "She first said it was a dead rat, then said rotting mutton from Eid and then finally said it was the drainage smell. She was shivering as she said this and asked us to leave and locked the gates," she added.
The confrontation attracted more neighbours who were also annoyed by the foul smell but got curious once they established the source of it. "People first tried to barge in but then called the police," said Raziya. When the police finally came, they found that Maruthi had been murdered.
Krishna, the 38-year-old unemployed son of Maruthi had bought seven new buckets to store is fathers chopped remains. The Eid and wedding at his neighbour's house meant a lot of people using the narrow lane of their neighbourhood. It would have been impossible for Krishna to dump his father's body. According to reports, the family moved teh buckets from the room in the front to the one in the rear of the house and used air fresheners and perfumes to battle the smell.
According to the Malkajgiri police, Maruthi Krishna was allegedly killed by his son for not sharing his Railways retirement pension. The police have taken him into custody but are yet to present him before the judiciary despite the 24 hours deadline to do so.
"We are still investigating the role of the daughter and mother. The reason for the murder is very petty. The son was unemployed and wanted more allowance from the old man. He killed his father so that the pension money would go to his mother and he would have control over it," said a police officer with the Malkajgiri Police station. Krishna killed his father for a monthly Rs 30,000 pension from the railways.
"He was a good man and was very respectable, he would join us for Eid celebrations also," says Asma. Most neighbours surrounding Maruthi's residence in the colony denied media reports that he was an alcoholic. For now, they are dealing with the shock that such a macabre crime happened in their neighbourhood. "We didn't expect such a thing to happen next to our home, not in our wildest dreams," says Aslam as others agree.