The details are sketchy at this distance in time. The only source on the murder of Baladeen is the Manual of the Administration of Madras Presidency for the year 1867. In its time, it must have been a sensational crime. Even after so many years, it reads like one of those B-grade thrillers that become films.
Baladeen, identified as aged 19 and belonging ‘to a high caste’ from North India, came to Madras sometime in 1865 or so. While here, he stayed where several of his community were living, probably the Sowcarpet area. He was probably very well-to-do, and wore rather oddly, a pair of gold bangles, perhaps as an indication of his status. There are no details as to what Baladeen did for a living and why he came to Madras. But what we do know is that one day he disappeared quite mysteriously.
Who alerted the police about the disappearance is also not clear. Madras was then undergoing a more-than-usual peaceful period in its existence. There were only five reported murders in the whole city that year, and the police gave their full attention to Baladeen’s disappearance. Chief Constable Roop Ram was put on the job. Having made all the routine enquiries, he, with considerable difficulty, managed to locate the place where Baladeen had been hastily buried. The body was exhumed and the post mortem revealed that the victim had been drugged before being strangled.
Enquiries revealed that he had been very close to Ram Bhoye, a married woman, belonging to a North Indian family that had settled for long in Madras. The arrest of Ram Bhoye, her husband, and three others, one of whom was of ‘the highest caste’ followed thereafter. The case of The Queen Vs Ram Bhoye and Others was an open-and-shut matter, especially after one of the accused turned approver.
Ram Bhoye, it transpired, had coveted Baladeen’s jewels, especially his bangles, and had hatched a plot to do away with him. Having become his confidante, she had enticed him to a deserted choultry in a coconut grove, where he was drugged.
Following this, the co-conspirators had killed and buried him. The bangles that he usually wore were found to be in Ram Bhoye’s possession. The judgement, when delivered, gave out death to three of the co-conspirators, including Ram Bhoye’s husband, pardoned the approver given his becoming Queen’s evidence, and most surprisingly, let off Ram Bhoye herself on a technicality. It is likely that she was not present when the actual murder happened and so was not implicated. What followed is even more grisly. Having maintained a calm demeanour right through the trial, she was present when her husband and the other two co-conspirators were hanged. She then took Chief Constable Roop Ram aside and told him that while it was true that the five had committed the murder, the worst of the lot had been allowed to escape!