In cold blood
Suspicion and jealousy could have lead Manu Rajan to killing her wife and then trying to cover it up
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
When Pratibha Gautam Rajan shared a news story of the suicide of a Judicial Magistrate in Yavatmal on her Facebook timeline in March, she had no idea that in a few months her life was also to take a dark sordid turn. Pratibha’s body was found hanging from the ceiling fan with both wrists slit open in her circuit house quarter in Officer’s Colony of Kanpur Dehat on October 9.
Amidst protests from lawyers and the Regional Bar Association of Kanpur against the slow pace of police proceedings in the case, startling facts have been revealed by the Police making the case murkier by the minute. Pratibha was four months pregnant and her husband Manu Abhishek Rajan suspected that she was having an extramarital affair. He was also doubtful of the paternity of the child. While Pratibha wanted the child, Manu wanted her to have an abortion. According to the police this suspicion might have led him to commit the heinous murder.
While the police has arrested Manu, the post mortem report has confirmed that she was strangled to death and later hanged by her dupatta. The post mortem also revealed that initially both her wrists were slit one by one to kill her, but when she did not die she was strangled. Multiple rod wounds were also found on her body.
According to the alibi given by Manu, he left for Kanpur on the night of October 8 at around 11 pm after he could not establish any contact with Pratibha. On reaching the circuit house at 6 in the morning he tried to get Pratibha to open the door but there was no response. This is when he decided to break in. He did so after repeated attempts. On finally entering into the room he saw Pratibha hanging from the fan with both her wrists slit open. He then called the police and informed them about the incident. Manu also said that the servants were given a day off by Pratibha on Saturday. He complained that in spite of repeated phone calls to the police they did not listen to him, and that they came to the scene only after the news broke.
However, police now believes that Manu had already reached Kanpur on October 8 when he killed her and then tried to pass it off as a suicide.
Police confirmed that the couple had a spat in Delhi after Manu came back from Mussoorie and Pratibha visited him. After the argument on their way home from airport, Pratibha got down from the car midway and left for Kanpur. According to a thread of whatsapp conversations recovered by the police from Pratibha’s phone, Manu threatened her of dire consequences abusing her and her family. He also told her that he will be coming to Kanpur to sort things out. SSP Salabh Mathur said that, “from what we have gathered through our investigation Manu threatened her to the extent of saying that he will ‘kill’ her, we believe that Manu murdered her and then tried to give it a suicide angle to cover up.”
Exactly a year ago 27-year-old Pratibha was posted as an Additional Civil Judge at Kanpur Dehat and was promoted as the Judicial Magistrate in May 2016. Pratibha first met Manu in 2013 while studying law in Delhi. As the relationship blossomed over time they decided to get married. They had a court marriage on January 29, 2016 and later revealed it to their parents. They then held another ceremony in the presence of Manu’s family and friends on April 23. The marriage led to strained ties with Pratibha’s parents who were against her decision of getting married to Manu.
Facebook profiles of both Manu and Pratibha are filled with the couple's photos which depicts them leading happy and comfortable married lives. However, it also raises questions as to what sudden change could have led to the relationship souring so quickly. Manu in his defense had accused his in laws of continuously ‘threatening’ Pratibha, and never supporting her major or minor decisions. He told the police that they never wanted him as their son-in-law, they wanted either a judge or an IAS officer for Pratibha. What did not help matters was the fact that Manu belonged to a scheduled caste.
Meanwhile, Pratibha’s parents have accused Manu of ‘torturing’ her and not wanting the child, while Pratibha wanted to have the baby. Pratibha’s brother who filed a complaint against Manu, his father Retd. Delhi judge SC Rajan and mother Niru Rajan told the media that Manu was lying, and that he would never let them talk to her over phone after the marriage. He doubted that something wrong must have happened in Delhi when Pratibha last visited Manu a day ago that she immediately returned to Kanpur.
Earlier Pratibha’s sister accused the police of not taking timely action as Manu is the son of a top judge from Delhi. Following protests from family members Manu’s father was brought in for questioning and was later released after he complained of heavy breathing in front of his lawyers.
Police has now booked Manu under section 302 attempt to murder and 302 (b) murder for dowry, of the IPC and began its proceedings. Manu will now be presented in the district court to demand judicial custody for further investigations.