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Published in the 1-15 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Godman to be hanged for murdering "wife"

The Milli Gazette Online

Bangalore: Self-proclaimed godman Swami Shraddhananda (alias Murli Manohar Mishra) was sentenced to death by a court here on 21 May for murdering his “wife” Shakereh by burying her alive 14 years ago. Shraddhananda’s counsel said the judgement would be challenged in High Court.

Shraddhananda was charged with murder of his “wife”, who was the grand-daughter of the former ‘diwan’ (prime minister) of erstwhile Mysore state, Mirza Ismail, and wife of Akbar Khaleeli, a former Indian high commissioner to Australia. 

Reportedly Shakereh had resented Shraddhananda’s move to sell off her sprawling mansion here, and he drugged her and buried her alive under the porch of the bungalow in 1991. 

Shakereh’s daughter Sabah filed a police complaint in 1992 stating that her mother was missing. Shraddhananda was arrested in 1994. He was convicted after an 11-year trial during which he tried everything to evade justice. Police exhumed Shakereh’s skeletons in 1994 which remained until now in police custody. Shakereh’s youngest daughter Esmeth said there would be "a formal burial" in a month’s time. 

Shakereh had four daughters from her marriage to Khaleeli. Besides Sabah and Esmeth, the two others were Rehane and Zeebundey. Claiming special spiritual powers, Shraddhananda reportedly promised Shakereh a baby boy. She divorced Khaleeli in 1985 and married Shraddhananda a year later.

The judge also sentenced Shraddhananda to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 under section 201 of IPC relating to "disappearance of evidence".

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