By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jun 4 (IANS): The recent incident of unrequited love resulting in the brutal stabbing of a Delhi teenager by her suitor has once again brought the sordid never-ending crimes of passion to the fore all over the country.
Probably, the country's first, or at least, the most famous crime in this category took place on April 27, 1959 when an Indian Navy Commander K. M. Nanavati, a Parsi, allegedly shot his close friend and businessman, Prem B. Ahuja, a Sindhi, at the latter's home in south Mumbai.
The provocation for the sudden but cool-headed killing was his close pal, Ahuja's torrid affair with Nanavati's British wife, Sylvie -- behind the back of the naval officer, who remained away from home for prolonged periods for compulsions of duty.
Though charged with murder, Nanavati was first declared 'not guilty' by a jury. The verdict was overruled by the Bombay High Court and the case went to a regular 'bench trial' which convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment, and later confirmed upto the Supreme Court in 1961.
After his conviction, a chain of events resulted in a strong public opinion build up in favour of Nanavati -- an honest, upright officer, a former Defence Attache to V. K. K. Krishna Menon, when he was the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and later became the Defence Minister of India.
A veritable media campaign was also unleashed in Mumbai and other places which finally led to the deceased Ahuja's sister, Mamie Ahuja seeking a 'Pardon' for her brother's killer, Nanavati.
After some more hiccups, the then Governor of Maharashtra, Vijayalakshmi Pandit -- sister of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru -- granted a 'pardon' to Nanavati in 1962.
Though he spent 3 years in the lockup, after the pardon, Nanavati, along with wife Sylvie and their three children migrated to Canada where he passed away in July 2003 and his widow was sent to an old-age home.
A veteran Mumbai crime reporter, Raju Parulekar -- who moonlights as an ideator for various reality-based television crime serials -- says that crimes of passion and economic crimes top the viewer popularity charts, followed by rapes and 'saas-bahu' stories and then all other types of crimes, including dacoities, terrorism, etc.
He points at several crimes of passion that rocked Maharashtra in recent times - like the woman college lecturer who was set ablaze outside her college in Wardha in February 2020, the killing and chopping to pieces of a girl by her boyfriend in New Delhi in November 2022.
A retired senior journalist Bhagu Talreja of Ulhasnagar (Thane) recounts his big story break -- the sensational case of the 15-year-old girl Rinku Patil whose jilted suitor set her ablaze inside the classroom when she was writing the SSC exams on March 31, 1990 at the SES School -- and later committed suicide on the railway tracks, sparking a nationwide furore on the question of the protection of girls or women from such obsessed nutcases.
There have been other crimes that have made it to gory headlines and grabbed eyeballs for the sheer emotions they unleashed among the shocked masses - though in the tragic endings, nobody survived.
A two-timing youth from Ratnagiri killed his 'lover' by pushing her from the Thane Creek bridge as he wanted to marry his other girlfriend in August 2022, a Palghar diamantaire's son killed his girlfriend and hid her body in a bed before fleeing the scene in February 2023, but was caught.
Hungry for original stories, Bollywood, television and now the OTT, often chew up on these blood-stained real-life incidents to come up with films like: "Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyar Ke" (1963), "Achanak" (1973), "Darr" (1993), "Tere Naam" (2003), "Ek Hasina Thi" (2004), "Rustom" (2016), a Marathi drama "Apradh Meech Kela", and the 2019 webseries, "The Verdict - State v/s Nanavati", besides articles, novels, etc.