A 19-year-old college student was pushed to her death to serve the elaborate scheme of a con artist, passing off as a ‘disaster management trainer’ in Coimbatore. But was Arumugam acting alone? The Coimbatore rural police have broadened their investigation to find if the man who posed as an ‘NDMA trainer’ had more accomplices.
G Arumugam (31), a native of Kanyakumari, was operating out of an office from Chennai and was arrested under IPC 304 (II) for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, after mobile phone footage showed him pushing a reluctant Logeswari down.
The police are now investigating three people who were working with Arumugam, including a man named Ashok.
Who is Ashok?
In a letter accessed by TNM, Arumugam wrote to colleges under the guise of being a trainer certified by the National Disaster Management Authority. His Facebook bio also describes him as a trainer with NDMA; however the NDMA has denied this and added that they have no such training courses.
Using a letterhead which bears the name of the NDMA, Arumugam wrote to a college in January 2017, "Our Central Government is conducting an awareness program on "Disaster Management Awareness" in colleges all over India. On regards of this, we request your college management to grant permission to conduct this program in your institution. The College management need not pay any fees for this program. If any student requires certificate that can be obtained for Rs 50/-. These certificates can be used for registering to employment.”
The aforementioned letter quotes two mobile phone numbers as reference contacts – one of which is his own.
When TNM contacted the second number, listed as that of “District Coordinator”, the man on the other end of the line did not reveal his name and hung up quickly.
Truecaller places the number as “Janani Sundar”; the person who picked up the phone told TNM that he did not know who Arumugam was. The number was switched off almost immediately after.
Coimbatore rural police confirmed to TNM that they were investigating if this number belonged to Arumugam's friend Ashok.
TNM found a profile in the name of Ashok, on Arumugam’s Facebook friends list. Ashok, too, has mentioned in his bio that he was a “District Coordinator”, working at the NDMA. Ashok’s Facebook profile shows several photographs with Arumugam at colleges, indicating that this could well be a joint con job.
Photographs from Ashok's Facebook page reveal two things: He and Arumugam had known each other, and that Ashok, too, had been to disaster management training at colleges, with hundreds of students seen sitting behind him in pictures.
TNM called one of the colleges from where he had posted a selfie.
Speaking to TNM, Principal of Arunachala College of Engineering said, "Ashok did come here for a program but he didn't do a demo. One year back he came and conducted a seminar. The seminar was an awareness on disaster management for civil engineering final year students last year. We usually conduct it through NSS. The NSS staff in our college is on leave. A letter came through post and it said that the Collector wanted seminars held. The reference contact mentioned was Ashok, so we went ahead and organised it."
Investigators told TNM that Arumugam claimed he had made no monetary benefits from organising classes. However they were probing how much money he and his accomplices made by issuing certificates to students.