One look at Bhagaval Singh's Facebook profile would reveal that he is passionate about poetry, especially haikus. With over 800 followers, Singh has also shared several posts that indicate his support for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the ruling party of Kerala. But no aspect of his Facebook persona gave away the fact that he and his wife, Laila, were involved in the brutal alleged 'human sacrifice' of two women at Elanthoor village in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district.
"We have always found them normal. There was nothing extraordinary or abnormal about them," Mercy Mathew, the panchayat president of Elanthoor village, where the couple had been staying for years, told The Quint.
Singh and Laila were arrested on 11 October by the Kerala Police after the dismembered bodies of two women, Roselin, 49, and Padma, 52, were allegedly found in their backyard.
So, who were Bhagaval Singh and Laila? Did their neighbours ever suspect that they were capable of committing one of the most sordid crimes Kerala has ever witnessed?
'A Normal Family'
Bhagaval Singh and Laila were local medics and ran an Ayurvedic massage therapy centre in the village.
"We have known these people for years. They lived in the 13th ward of Elanthoor village. Singh's father was a well-known massage therapist in his time, and after he died, Singh took over the business and has been practising the same with his wife for years," said Mathew, who lives just a kilometre away from Singh's house.
"His wife, Laila, does not really practise massage therapy, but she helps him run the business," added Mathew.
"Everyone knew them as 'Anjilmoottil Vaidyanmaar' (medics). Though 'Singh' doesn't seem like a common surname for a Malayali, he and his family are Malayalis and have been here for a long time."Mercy Mathew, Elanthoor Panchayat President
Mathew said that the entire village was shocked and surprised when they heard the news of the couple's involvement in the murder of two women. "We wondered how something like this could happen right under our noses. We just couldn't believe it."
"We also had no clue that they were struggling financially that they had to resort to something so brutal. They were a normal family," she added.
CPI(M) Supporter, Poetry Lover
"He is a known CPI(M) leader. He is also in charge of the farmers' wing of the party. If you look at his Facebook posts, this is evident," Surendran said.
However, CPI(M) leader MA Baby confirmed that Bhagaval was not a member of the party even though he might have participated in party activities in the past. He also condemned the brutal incident and said that the culprits would be brought before the law.
But what is evident from Singh's social media profile is that he often pens haikus in Malayalam. A Facebook post even indicates that he has conducted workshops to teach haiku to poetry enthusiasts.
Why Were the Couple Arrested?
The investigation in the case began a few weeks ago after the family of one of the victims, Padma, who hailed from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, filed a complaint, stating she had been missing since 27 September. "Padma's sister said she would speak to her on the phone every evening. When she stopped attending calls, the sister approached us," a police officer told The Quint.
The police added that after examining CCTV footage, they found Padma getting into a Scorpio car with another man, who they later identified as Rasheed alias Mohammed Shafi. As per a preliminary probe, Shafi is responsible for the abduction and murder of both Padma and Roselin.
The investigation into the case is still ongoing and the police are yet to piece together the details of the two murders. They are also investigating whether other persons were involved in the crime.