Professor Mohan Kumar: Cyanide Murderer Convicted for 20th Murderer

Mohan Kumar Vivekanand was an Indian serial killer known to have killed unmarried women from families in the poverty line of Karnataka, by offering them a dowry-free marriage. He was also called Cyanide Mohan due to the method of killing his victims by offering them cyanide pills, faking them as contraceptive pills to cause cyanide poisoning

Overall he had killed 20 women between 2005-2009. He was also known to be involved in bank forgery cases.

Mohan Kumar came from a middle-class family in Mangalore, Karnataka, and used to work as a Physical Education teacher in a government local school.

He had two wives, Manjula staying in Kasargod, Kerala district, and Sridevi staying in Deralakatte, Karnataka both of them bore his children then. The money he received after selling his victims’ jewelry was used to take care of both families.

Neither did his wives or their families knew each other or about the crimes he had committed until the day of his arrest. He was the second eldest among the three of them. His father abandoned their family when he finished his schooling. He and his siblings were known as the brightest students in their village.

Modus Operandi of His Crimes

Sanjeev Purusha, the officer who handled Kumar’s case stated that his modus operandi was the same in all the crimes he committed, which were well planned in a systematic manner. Kumar loitered around bus stands of villages in and around Mangalore searching for unmarried women including those who had crossed the usual age of marriage.

Once he find his victim, he would try to talk and befriend her, and exchange numbers. Kumar was known for the enticing smooth talk he was capable of, through which he used to lure women. Once he made the relationship intact, he would plan a marriage where the first step was eloping.

He suggested eloping to the women stating that he does not want his or her family to know about the marriage, claiming that they will be able to understand them and accept them as a couple better post marriage.

After this, he would decide on a meeting place near the bus stand, board a bus to the nearest cities like Mysore or Bangalore with the woman and take a lodge near the bus stand and stay for a night, where he would engage in sexual intercourse.

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He was careful to make sure that she was in her post-ovulation stage to avoid the woman conceiving as the baby can be easily used against him as evidence. The next day he would ask her to remove all the jewelry and keep it in the lodge before going out.

On the way to the temple, he would ask her to take cyanide pills (which he fakes as contraceptive pills) inside the ladies’ toilet. When asked why they should have it inside the toilet he would suggest, the tablet can cause urination.

Once the woman collapses inside he would take all her belongings from the lodge and leave the city. He also identified himself in different names for different victims and registered himself with these fake names in the lodges.

Crime Period

On July 17th, 2009, Anitha Mulya, a 22-year old woman went missing from Barimar village in Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka. Her family conducted a search in and around the village and found no clue.

Locals of Dakshina Kannada being popular for religious riots then, started a rumor that the woman was kidnapped due to Love Jihad (a concept where people believed men seduced women from opposite religions to marry and convert her to their religion. This prominently was found between Hindus and Muslims).

This created a rift between both the communities and led to severe protests and the village started to burn. With heavy pressure above them, police started to conduct a deep investigation spanning across the state.

One day after Anitha went missing, a police troop in Hassan, 125km away from Barimar, found her corpse in a ladies toilet at the inter-city bus stand, with frothing from her mouth. This was communicated to the rural police.

The investigation started with accessing Anitha’s call log. After searching it thoroughly the police found a call from a number registered in the name of a Madikeri resident, Sridhar. This seemed suspicious and the police reached Sridhar’s house.

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But what awaited in Sridhar’s house was a bunch of baffling mysteries. The police were then informed that the number belonged to Sridhar’s sister Kaveri, who also went missing on March 17. Kaveri’s call log examination led the police to two more missing women, Vinitha from Puttur and Pushpa from Kasargod.

By now the police realized they were dealing with something more than a mystery or a missing women case. They teamed up with the neighboring district police and started to track the sim one by one. All of this finally led to one sim which was used to speak for more than twenty minutes from the outskirts of Deralakatte.

The owner of the sim did agree on the connection to be in his name, but he had given it to his nephew Mohan Kumar working as a teacher in Mangalore. It was then Kumar became a suspect.

A day after this incident, a woman tailor, Sumithra, testified to witnessing Anitha and Mohan Kumar in the bus stand leaving for Hassan.

She also claimed that this man had posed as a government officer offering marriage to her a few years back. Using Sumithra’s help, they placed a call from her sim to trap Mohan. When he arrived at the local bus stand he was arrested.

Post Arrest & Trial of Mohan Kumar

Mohan confessed to killing 20 women including Anitha in four years starting from 2005. Among all of them, the last one was Anitha who was also raped. He also explained his modus operandi to the police.

In India, more than a girl’s education, her marriage is given importance, especially towards rural India. In families facing heavy poverty, marriage for women is extremely difficult. Even with anti-dowry laws, people still demand dowry. It is this fact that Mohan took advantage of.  

He approached every woman with a different identity in terms of his name. To all of them, he said he was working as a government employee. One important thing he kept in mind was to ask about the girl’s caste.

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As people prefer to get married from the same caste, he would identify himself to be of the same caste as the woman. Sometimes he even kept in touch with the victims’ families.

He would call them after the woman’s death telling them that they are married and their daughter is safe with him and will visit them once he gets his leave application sanctioned. After this, the family of the victims never proceeded to any complaints.

Mohan never approached any lawyer for his case. His family after the arrest never supported him. His brother and his wives were under immense mental pressure that they abandoned him. Hence he stood for himself in the court and occasionally cross-examined police during the trial.

The public prosecutor who crossed him stated that he was an extremely intelligent man, with a thorough knowledge of Indian laws. Even in jail, he used to read textbooks related to law hoping for any loopholes that might help him to win the case.

He lost the case and the court sentenced him to death in December 2013. Other than cyanide killings he also had lodged fake cheques in the Bank.

Loopholes in Case and Conclusion

The only time police were able to find traces of cyanide from the victim’s body was in Anitha’s. The rest of the 19 women’s bodies were found across the state of Karnataka in different public ladies’ toilets.

These cases are usually treated as unidentified unless the victim’s family members identify them. Considering the case as nothing more than a self-destruction or any disease as such the victim’s picture for identification was not circulated across the state.

But the victims’ family members were from rural India due to which they never saw or noticed the advertisements or identification parades published in the cities or different districts.

This caused a delayed autopsy of the bodies due to which they could not identify traces of cyanide from the viscera. If Mohan Kumar had not confessed the crimes, probably the justice system would have stood numb with no solid evidence against him.

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