Sushil Sharma walked out of jail in December 2018 after spending nearly 23 years behind the bars. He said he was a “changed” man now and emphasised his belief in Sai Baba and Goddess Durga.
“I would pray everyday to God and that gave me the hope during my time in jail,” he said.
Sharma served these long years behind bars for killing his wife Naina Sahni in 1995. It was not just any ordinary murder case, it was about to haunt the country for years, as the infamous Tandoor murder case — one of the most shocking crimes India has ever seen.
The Day Of Crime: July 2, 1995
News reports, quoting police statements, say the killing took place due to a strained relationship between Sushil and Naina. Sushil suspected his wife was engaged in an extramarital affair.
Maxwell Pereira, India’s one of the most high-profile police officers, and also one of the policemen who investigated the tandoor murder case, has written a book on it. An excerpt from the book, as published on DailyO, said Sushil had confronted Naina that night about someone she had been apparently speaking to, and she told him not to interfere in her life.
An India Today report mentioned the political ladders Sushil had climbed, and the confidence Naina had as she was also part of political circles. Reports quote people as saying that she was not someone to be afraid of Sushil.
Sushil was reportedly drunk and angry that night. “He observes Naina and finds her in a suitably inebriated state. The liquor that has emboldened his agitated mind has merely stupefied hers. A dark inner voice, the kind that a man in his senses recoils from, goads him to act: Now is the time to do it,” the excerpt cited above read.
An enraged Sushil took out his revolver from a drawer and shot Naina thrice from point-blank range. One bullet hit her head, another her neck, and the third missed her and hit an object behind. She fell, dying almost instantaneously.
Murder Done, Objective Changes To Disposing The Body
According to Pereira’s book, Sushil cleaned the room, and checked if anyone had noticed the gunshot. Once satisfied, he thought of the way to dispose of Naina’s body. He first thought of dumping the corpse in the Yamuna, and took the body to the river, passing by ITO and the Delhi Police headquarters.
However, seeing crowd there, Sushil had to change his plan. He had found the solution in a flash. He reached Bagiya restaurant run by his friend Keshav Kumar, and confided in him about the blunder he had committed. Keshav announced to close the restaurant for the day. Everything happened at a lightning speed, the book says.
It was around 11 pm. Sushil and Keshav took wood pieces, and built a pyre around the body. Keshav helped with a few packets of butter. The pyre was lit and the tandoor’s flames took in Naina’s chopped-up body parts.
“As Naina’s body burn
Arrest, Probe And Conflicting Autopsy Reports
The fire from tandoor caught the attention of a policeman patrolling nearby the same night. By the time he saw Naina’s body, Keshav and Sushil had fled. The news made headlines, the case shook the country as it involved a strong political figure from the Congress. Sushil alleged that the case was a political conspiracy.
He managed to escape the manhunt for nine days, before finally surrendering in Bengaluru, an India Today report said. Police said he spoke about murder once he was taken back to Delhi. He reportedly named a Central minister and many others. According to the India Today report, one of the policemen had said: “He will be spinning a lot of such stories the next few days to confuse us or change the charge from murder to manslaughter.”
Another challenge for the police was to identify Naina’s body. Her former lover and a Youth Congress (I) activist, Matloob Karim, was the first one to confirm the same. “I identified it by the structure of the nose and the way she did her hair,” he said, as quoted by India Today.
The case was one of the rarest when two autopsies were performed to determine the exact cause of Naina’s death. As a matter of surprise, the two differed in every way possible.
As per the India Today report, the first post-mortem concluded that Naina had died of “excessive bleeding” and was probably unconscious when she was cut up. However, it failed to establish whether her body was cut before or after her death.
The second autopsy report completely rejected the first one. It said Naina had been shot twice. “We found evidence of two bullet wounds-one in the skull and one in the neck,” Dr Bharat Singh, one of the experts who carried out the autopsy, was quoted as saying in the India Today report.
Police had found a .32 shell in the couple’s Gole Market flat, which backed the second autopsy report. DNA method was also employed to prove and establish her identity.
Sushil was convicted and sentenced to death by a Delhi court in 2003. His sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court in 2007. Later, in 2013, the Supreme Court commuted his death sentence to life in prison. The top court had also dismissed an appeal filed by the Delhi government, questioning the premature release of Sushil granted by the Delhi HC.
‘I Regret What I Did’
A day after being released from Tihar jail, Sushil said he regretted what he did. “I regret what I did and wish to advise others against taking spur of the moment decisions…I want society to see the change in me,” the former youth Congress leader was quoted as saying in a Times of India report.
He said he wished to go to Vaishno Devi with his parents but they were old and won’t be able to travel. “My life is a clean slate now and I have to write my A, B, C, Ds afresh,” Sushil said, explaining his hopes to start afresh, as quoted by NDTV.
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