Two days ago, Selvam, the young son of Padmam, received the news he so dreaded ever since his mother had gone incommunicado; that she was no more.
The city police rang him to share the sad news. Padmam, a 52-year-old lottery vendor, had gone missing on September 26.
“She used to call us unfailingly every single day. But on September 26 she didn’t and we could not contact her either. This raised our suspicion,” said Selvam, who lodged a complaint for missing person with Kadavanthra police the next day after travelling all the way from Tamil Nadu.
Padmam, originally from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, had been reportedly living in Kochi city for the last 15 years while her family, comprising her ailing husband and two children, was back home. She used to do casual labour before turning to lottery vending about six months back. She was living in a single room in Elamkulam.
Police had launched a probe for her relying mostly on CCTV images and mobile tower location. They reportedly came across a CCTV image of Padmam leaving with Shafi aka Rasheed, the key accused arrested in connection with the alleged ‘human sacrifices. Her last mobile tower location was also shown in Thiruvalla.
“During the probe, we came to know that she had left with a man to Thiruvalla where she was murdered,” said C.H. Nagaraju, District Police Chief (Kochi City).
The other victim, Rosli, 49, was originally from Thrissur and it has now emerged that she was staying with a man in a rented house in Mattoor in Kalady. Reportedly, she had a fractured marriage and had been living separately from her husband. She also had a far from smooth relation with her alleged live-in partner as well.
She had gone missing on June 6 and her daughter Manju lodged a missing complaint with Kalady police on August 18 after repeated attempts to contact her failed.
“She stayed here just for 15 days. She said that she was working with an Ayurveda treatment centre,” said her houseowner. However, there were unverified reports that she was into selling lottery tickets in Kochi city. It is learnt that she might have stayed at three other places in Kalady.
“I last met my mother in January when I had come for vacation. She could not be contacted after June 6, following which I contacted the man she stayed with. He confirmed that she was missing and then filed the police complaint,” said the victim’s daughter Manju, who is working in Uttar Pradesh.
Reportedly, both the victims were lured with monetary benefits of up to ₹10 lakh and even acting opportunities by Shafi.