How a PFI worker convicted in Kerala terror case eluded NIA sleuths for 13 years

Despite years of surveillance, Savad, the prime accused in the palm chopping of Prof TJ Joseph, managed to keep himself away from the radar of India's top intelligence agency, the NIA. How did he pull this off?
PFI worker Ashamannur Savad who eluded NIA for 13 years
PFI worker Ashamannur Savad who eluded NIA for 13 years
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Neighbours and colleagues in three villages in Kerala’s Kannur are reeling from a double shock: the unassuming man next door, always willing to help, was actually Ashamannur Savad, the man who wielded an axe to chop off the right hand palm of Prof TJ Joseph in 2010, living under a false identity for more than 13 years. While the investigators were looking for him, this absconding criminal didn’t vanish into thin air. He was right there, hiding in plain sight, living a normal life, allegedly with the help of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) supporters. 

The question hangs heavy: how could this happen? How could a man accused of such a heinous act, a key figure in a case that shook Kerala and ultimately led to the ban on SDPI’s ideological parent, the Popular Front of India (PFI) in 2022, live undetected for so long, right under people’s noses? The answer, perhaps, lies not in some grand conspiracy, but in the quiet ordinariness of his disguise. In the banal normalcy of a life built on a foundation of lies, starting with a new name.

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