A 36-year-old Indian man has been taken into custody after allegedly faking his own death by murdering someone of similar build and passing the victim off as himself—all in an attempt to avoid facing trial for the alleged 2018 honor killing of his 13-year-old daughter.
Sudesh Kumar, along with his wife Anupama—who falsely identified the dead man as her husband—are charged with the murder of Domen Ravidas, a bricklayer they had invited into their home on the false pretense of doing repair work, according to local police.
Police say that once Ravidas arrived, he was dressed up in Kumar’s clothing, given too much to drink, and beaten to death. The Kumars then allegedly disfigured his face and dumped him—with Sudesh Kumar’s I.D. and wallet tucked in his pocket—in a vacant lot in suburban New Delhi.
“The body was partially burnt and its face was beyond recognition,” Police chief Iraj Raja told AFP. “We traced it back to [Kumar’s] home and got his wife to identify the body. She promptly identified it as [her] husband’s body. However, we were not convinced.”
Police then started investigating and eventually found CCTV footage of Kumar carrying his dead body double on a bike near the location where he was found. When police staked out Kumar’s home they were not surprised to spot him on a conjugal visit to his wife. “Upon being interrogated, he spilled the beans,” Raja said.
Kumar had been arrested for the murder of his daughter but was released from custody pending trial at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged New Delhi. Authorities had emptied many prisons of people facing trial, and Kumar was concerned they may start hauling prisoners back in, he allegedly told police.
Honor killings are common in India, where they often go unpunished. Around 145 such killings took place between 2017 and 2019 when Kumar is said to have killed his daughter, Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra told India Today recently.
“The couple hatched an elaborate plot, but police managed to crack this blind murder case,” Raja told the BBC. “This team will be awarded for its work.”