Unsolved mystery: Accused 'Military' Ashraf still missing in Soumya Bhat Case

11:13 AM Aug 08, 2023 | Team Udayavani |

The coastal town of Puttur remains haunted by the unresolved mystery surrounding the brutal murder of college student Vadya Soumya Bhatt. Despite the passage of time, the perpetrator, who managed to evade law enforcement’s grasp, continues to elude justice, leaving the community in a state of shock and anger.


The victim and the tragic incident

In a tragic turn of events on August 7, 1997, Vadya Soumya Bhatt, a final-year B.Sc student at Puttur Vivekananda College, met her untimely demise. Following her college day, at approximately 5 pm, Soumya disembarked from a bus at Kabaka and began her journey home by crossing a desolate railway track leading to Kedilala. As dusk settled, an eerie atmosphere prevailed. Unbeknownst to her, a malevolent figure, armed with a knife, trailed her steps. Confronting her on the secluded path, the assailant attempted to assault her sexually. Courageously resisting his advances, Soumya managed to break free and flee. Her escape, however, was short-lived, as the attacker, later identified as military personnel Ashraf from Kudamblaje, gave chase and ultimately inflicted over 20 fatal stab wounds upon her. The sheer brutality of the act sent shockwaves throughout Puttur.

The escaped accused and his pursuit

The aftermath of the heinous crime saw an outpouring of public outrage in Puttur. Calls for justice reverberated, leading to widespread protests and even a town-wide shutdown. Eventually, the prime suspect, Ashraf, was apprehended. Yet, only two months after his arrest, he managed to escape custody while in Mangalore. Subsequently, he was captured once again, this time near Panemangalore in Bantwala taluk. Astonishingly, Ashraf’s audacity knew no bounds, as he yet again managed to slip away from law enforcement, this time eluding them for two years. In a baffling turn of events, Ashraf remains at large, with his whereabouts shrouded in mystery. There are whispers that he might have fled abroad, but concrete evidence regarding his current location remains elusive.


Ashraf’s profile and connections

The accused, Ashraf, was reportedly associated with the military at the time of the crime. He had arrived in Puttur a month prior to the tragic incident. Just two days before the fateful encounter, he had crossed paths with Soumya’s father, making inquiries about his daughter. Concealing his sinister intentions, Ashraf’s conversation with Ganapati Bhatt, Soumya’s father, revolved around a seemingly innocuous discussion about college. This ruse, however, was a calculated ploy to gather information for his nefarious plans. In the aftermath of the murder, additional information surfaced, suggesting that Ashraf might have been involved in illicit activities prior to the incident. Reports indicated that Soumya Bhatt had been subjected to an assault by an individual matching Ashraf’s description two days before her tragic end.

The haunting mystery persists

As the years have passed, the specter of Soumya Bhatt’s brutal murder continues to loom over Puttur. The case remains a poignant reminder of the darkness that can descend upon even the most peaceful of communities. Despite the collective efforts of law enforcement and the community, Ashraf, the accused, remains a fugitive, his evasion of justice serving as a somber testament to the challenges of pursuing truth in a world clouded by uncertainty.


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