Mutton soup, Aadhaar and identity theft: Murder from Telangana is stranger than fiction

A woman would have got away with murder, but for a twist in the plot.

 |  3-minute read |   13-12-2017
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A senior journalist may have found this tale "cute", but really, it is nothing short of bizarre. In a surreal example of life imitates art (if you can call it that), a woman managed to almost get away with swapping her husband’s face with that of her lover.

Eerily similar to the plot of the Telugu film Yevadu, which, in itself, was something of a rip-off of the Nicholas Cage- and John Travolta-starrer Face/Off, this story involves the murder of a man and then, in a bizarre twist, replacing him with another man, who had — and here’s the kicker — his face surgically altered.

According to reports, Swati Reddy, a 27-year-old nurse from Nagarkurnool district of Telangana, murdered her husband Sudhakar Reddy, a physiotherapist, with the help of her boyfriend Rajesh. The couple had been married for three years and had a child. On November 27, Swati and Rajesh managed to drug Sudhakar. They injected him with an anaesthetic. When he fell unconscious, they hit him on the head, which resulted in his death. The couple then proceeded to dispose of the body by burning it in a forest.

If the sequence of incidents so far is not horrifying enough, the story here takes a baffling turn.

cpl_121317044051.jpgPhoto: Indiatoday.in

The woman, Swati, then maimed Rajesh’s face with acid. Why, one would ask.  She did so to disfigure his face to such an extent that he would become unrecognisable. While it would seem like an odd thing to do for a couple who had just murdered the man who happened to be Swati’s husband, the ulterior motive, however, here was mindblowing. Swati then called her husband’s family and told them that he’d met with an accident.

The family, along with Swathi, rushed her lover Rajesh (who the murdered man's parents thought was Sudhakar) to the hospital for plastic surgery. With treatment, things were starting to look better. It would seem that Swati and Rajesh had almost succeeded in their plan to make everyone believe that the latter was her husband. But alas, things did not turn out as planned.

As filmmaker Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make god laugh, tell him about your plans.”

God laughed and how. This elaborate and complicated plan would have succeeded but for a tiny hindrance — a la twist of fate. Sudhakar’s relatives became suspicious of the imposter. How? When Rajesh (posing as Sudhakar) refused to have mutton soup served to patients with burn injuries, they began to suspect something was wrong.

After all, Sudhakar, unlike Rajesh, was a non-vegetarian.

When the family started asking him some questions, including few about the identity of relatives, Rajesh stopped speaking and started conversing in sign language. Soon, the suspicious family members alerted the police.

The police used the imposter's fingerprints to match with Sudhakar's Aadhaar details, to ascertain his identity. In an oddly victorious moment for the UIDAI, the mismatched Aadhaar biometric details helped the police recognise that this was, in fact, not Sudhakar.

Upon being grilled by the police, Swati finally confessed to killing her husband with the help of Rajesh, adding that she had been inspired by Yevadu. The police arrested Swati on December 10.

Sometimes, real life is stranger than fiction. Yes, murkier too.

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