NEW DELHI - An Indian man who was part of an elaborate plot to kill his lover's husband and pretend to be the victim by disfiguring himself was produced in court on Friday (Dec 15).
Rajesh Ajjakolu is in custody and will be charged when the police complete their investigations. The physiotherapist was arrested on Thursday after he was discharged from hospital in southern Telangana state where he was recuperating from burns to his face.
His lover, Swathi Reddy, 27, a private nurse, was arrested on Sunday. The police said she has confessed to the murder of her husband of three years, Mr Sudhakar Reddy, 32. The couple have two children.
The case has attracted international media attention and investigating officers said it was unprecedented.
"I have never seen a case like this. We are still collecting information and conducting investigations,'' Nagarkurnool deputy superintendent of police A Lakshmi Narayana told The Straits Times.
He said Rajesh and Swathi met two years ago when she went for physiotherapy at the centre where he worked. They became lovers and Rajesh would go to Swathi's home in Nagarkurnool when her husband was out.
Rajesh told the local media that he wanted to elope with Swathi, but she came up with another plan.
"I wanted to elope with Swathi but she insisted that we kill Sudhakar Reddy" as she was afraid that she would lose her children if she ran away, he reportedly said on Thursday. "She also said that her parents would be shocked if we eloped," Rajesh added.
Mr Narayana said that the couple came up with a plan in which Rajesh would undergo plastic surgery and take Mr Sudhakar's place.
On Nov 27, they injected Mr Sudhakar with anaesthesia, then bludgeoned him to death with an iron rod. They then burnt his body in a forested area about 70km from Swathi's house. At home, Swathi poured petrol on Rajesh's face and set him on fire.
"Swathi told Sudhakar Reddy's family that four people had entered the house and doused him with petrol with the intention of killing him," said Mr Narayana. "The family believed it."
The family visited Rajesh in hospital. However, 10 days later, when the burns started healing, they grew suspicious. Mr Sudhakar's brother told the police that his sister-in-law had done something to him and investigations uncovered the bizarre murder plot.
The police have since recovered Mr Sudhakar's body.
Local media claimed that Swathi was inspired by the 2014 Telugu movie Yevadu in which an injured young man who went through plastic surgery was made to look like the surgeon's dead son.