: “A man with an elusive past” was how a senior police investigator described Hari Hara Varma, the 68-year-old man who was murdered for his stash of “gem stones” of questionable value here on December 24.
Investigators, who verified Varma’s antecedents, said they had so far found it “hard to pin down or reconstruct the life story” of the “self-appointed” scion of a former ruling family of an erstwhile princedom in Central Kerala. The family has since denied that Varma was their relative.
A school-leaving certificate found among his possessions show that Varma had passed out of the Sri Gujarati Vidyalaya at Mattanchery in 1968. The current authorities of the school, who verified other certificates they had issued that year, told the investigators that the signature of the headmaster on the certificate was fake.
The late T. P. Mathew, father of T.M. Thomas Isaac, former Finance Minister and CPI(M) legislator from Alapuzzha, had headed the school that year and his signature did not match the one on Varma’s certificate.
Investigators said Varma’s two wives also could not shed much light on their husband’s origins, parents or his past. He had married both of them within a span of a few years and neither knew of the other’s existence.
The women had met him through matrimonial advertisements Varma had placed in newspapers.
They told the police that Varma had attended the marriage ceremonies alone, maintaining that his “royal family” frowned upon his marriage with a member of another caste. Varma has properties in his name in Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram.
The police found two diaries in which Varma has listed his contacts, most of them “shady dealers” who sold common place objects and recently crafted artefacts as talismans and antiques possessing magical properties to credulous buyers.
They said Varma stressed his “privileged position” to sell his “heirlooms”, mostly gems and stone idols of scarce value, to unsuspecting buyers.
He was loath to let anybody closely examine the gems and would get roused if anyone dared suggest that they were “fake”.
Investigators have now sought Varma’s passport details in a bid to unravel the past of a man who apparently does not seem to have one.