Healer was kept in captivity for secret formula, tortured to death: Kerala cops

A TRADITIONAL healer from Mysuru in Karnataka, who was abducted in 2019 from his residence and kept in captivity in a house in Kerala’s Malappuram district for more than a year to force him to divulge the secret formula of his medicine for piles, was eventually tortured to death, according to Kerala Police.

The police have arrested prime accused Shaibin Asharaf, a 42-year-old from Malappuram district, who runs a hotel business and ventures in the Middle-east, and three of his accomplices for the murder of Shaba Sherif, 60.

According to the police, Shaibin and his accomplices abducted Shaba, a small-time healer known for his one-time treatment of piles, from his house in August 2019. He was taken to Shaibin’s walled-house at Nilambur in Malappuram, where the healer was chained and shut in a room.

Shaibin wanted to extract the secret of the traditional medicine prepared by Shaba and start its commercial production to make money. As Shaba did not divulge the secret, Shaibin and his men tortured him to death, chopped his body into pieces, and threw them in a river in packets, the police said.

That was in October 2020, around 14 months after the abduction. By then, the police in Mysuru had shelved the missing person case filed by Shaba’s family after investigations to trace him failed to proceed beyond Wayanad district, police sources said.

The breakthrough came only on April 29 this year, when five persons threatened to immolate themselves in front of the state secretariat, claiming that Shaibin had cheated them and that they had committed crimes at his behest.

Doused in an inflammable liquid, one of them screamed before a crowd of onlookers, including police, “Our lives are under threat. We have been cheated by Shaibin. We had committed crimes, including murder, at the behest of Shaibin. We have evidence.” One of them, T Naushad, flashed a pen-drive, claiming that it contained evidence for murder.

Taken to a local police station in Thiruvananthapuram, the five confessed that they were involved in a robbery at Shaibin’s house in Nilambur on April 24. They looted Rs 7 lakh, four expensive mobile phones and three laptops after Shaibin did not pay them for executing crimes on his behalf.

The police in Nilambur then decided to look into the allegations of murder. On examination of the pen drive, the police found videos in which Shaibin and others were seen torturing a person.

Subsequently, the probe moved to Mysuru to verify if the person being tortured was Shaba.

Following confirmation, Shaibin was arrested along with three of his accomplices in the murder – P Shihabudeen, T Naushad and N Nishad. Naushad, who was among the five who staged the suicide drama, had videographed Shaba’s torture, sources said.

Nilambur Deputy Superintendent of Police Saju K Abraham said after being abducted, Shaba was kept chained in a room at Shaibin’s house. “Every day, Shaibin would turn up at the room, forcing the healer to divulge the secret of his medicine. As he refused, Shaba was brutally tortured. They even brought several herbs and other items, which were believed to be ingredients of the medicine. However, Shaba did not disclose the secret, leading to his murder.’’

Abraham said they were looking for five more suspects in connection with the murder. “We will also search for Shaba’s body parts, which were thrown into Chaliyar river in Nilambur,” he said.

He said Shaba’s ottamooli (one-time medicine) was believed to be effective for piles. “Mysuru region has several such traditional healers engaged in treating piles. Shaibin believed that Shaba’s medicine had a fast-healing property and looked effective. Shaibin wanted to get the secret behind the medicine and start its commercial production,” he said.

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