The big-budget Malayalam movie, Dulquer Salman-starrer, Kurup got released on more than 1500 screens across the world, earlier this month.
The story of the movie revolves around an ever-elusive criminal mastermind who has been on the run for 37 years.
Sukumar Kurup, a native of Cheriyanad has been a fugitive and a wanted criminal for Kerala Police since 1984 for the infamous ‘Chacko murder’.
The story of Sukumar Kurup
On January 22, 1984 morning, locals saw a car on fire and a person burning inside the car on the driving seat near the Kolllakadavu bridge at Kunnam on the Mavelikkara-Chengannur road.
The ambassador car bearing registration number ‘KLQ 7831’ was found half-burnt, and a body still burning inside the car. Police found a matchbox, a pair of chappals, and rubber gloves near the car.
During the preliminary investigation, it was found that the car belonged to an NRI named Sukumar Kurup. The officials believed that the dead body found inside the car was of Kurup.
The charred body was taken for postmortem and the forensic surgeon claimed that there was no watch, rings or chappal on the body which is a bit strange as Sukumar was a wealthy NRI.
Later, the forensic surgeon confirmed that the deceased was first murdered and then the body was burnt. They also found traces of alcohol in his stomach and later also confirmed that he was strangulated to death. The body was then handed over to Kurup’s family and they cremated it.
During the case investigation, Police officials found burn marks on Bhaskar Pillai’s body, brother-in-law of Sukumar Kurup. He was called in for inquiry and Bhaskar Pillai confessed to having murdered Sukumara Kurup as he refused to return Rs.50,000 that was collected offering a job overseas.
Twist in the case
Locals believed that this was the end to Kurup’s murder case but investigation officer, DYSP Haridas refused to accept any of this and deployed two policemen in plain clothes near the house of Sukumar Kurup.
The policemen noticed that Kurup’s family showed no emotions and looked normal. They also smelled the aroma of chicken curry being prepared at his house, just two days after his death.
Bhaskar Pillai was once again called for interrogation and his confession proved to be the turning point in the case.
Kurup was working in a private company in Abu Dhabi and had a taken life insurance policy of Rs 30 lakh. He wanted to fake his own death to claim the insurance amount. He was inspired by an insurance fraud committed in Germany, the perpetrator faked his death and his nominee collected the money.
Kurup was trying to get an unclaimed body, resembling his physical appearance to give the impression that he died in a vehicle accident.
On January 21, 1984, Sukumara Kurup’s loyal driver Ponnappan, his wife’s sister’s husband Bhaskara Pillai, and Shahu, an attender in Kurup’s company in Abu Dhabi were traveling in their car, when a stranger requested them for a lift.
The man named Chacko, a film representamen by profession missed the last bus and was trying to reach home. The accused realised that Chacko had some resemblance to Kurup and decided to kill him.
Pillai and Shahu force-fed Chacko with poison-laced liquor and choked him to death. Then they drove to Pillai’s house, Smitha Bhavan in Cheriyanadu. They stripped the body of its clothes, wedding ring and watch, dressed him in Kurup’s outfit, and charred his face. They then loaded the body into the boot of the car. The body was later set on fire along with the car to hide the identity of the victim.
Police then started searching for the missing persons in the area and found out that a man named Chacko went missing on the day of the murder.
Police then dug out his body and did a re-postmortem. The tests confirmed that the body was of Chacko.
Both Bhaskara Pilla and Ponnappan were found guilty of murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment. Kurup’s wife and sister were acquitted for the lack of evidence. The fourth accused, Shahu had turned approver in the case.
Pillai claimed that Sukumara Kurup had gone to Abu Dhabi to collect the insurance money. Police began searching for him but he was never found.
37 years on, there is no information on his whereabouts, though some reports claim that some lookalikes were spotted in Kerala and other regions.