Illustrative purposes only Image Credit: AFP

Kollam: On May 7, Uthara, a 25-year old woman, was found unconscious in her bedroom and later pronounced dead, due to a venomous snake bite. Later, Uthara's family raised suspicions in her manner of death and alleged that she was murdered. 

After Uthara was rushed to a hospital, neighbours found and killed the snake in the bedroom that she shared with husband Sooraj and their son. Suspicions rose among locals because the room had closed doors and windows with the air conditioner running, which would mean that the snake had no way in directly in to the room the day of the incident.

Sooraj told police at the time that he had no idea that his wife had been bitten. Later, reports from local media said he had confessed. At the time of update, Sooraj was arrested by police in the case of Uthara's death. 

Two snakebites, months apart

The incident was picked by media and the public when it emerged that Uthara had been bitten twice in as many months, leading to more mystery around her death. On March 2, Uthara had survived a snake bite when at her husband's place in Adoor. Uthara had returned to her hometown and was at her parents' place following this.

It was at her parents' house that Uthara was found unconscious in May after a second, and this time fatal, snake bite. Her husband and 18-month-old son were in the same room.

Husband confessed

As more details emerged, police took in Sooraj and a couple of his friends in for questioning. Reportedly, investigation officers received evidence that Sooraj was in touch with snake-sellers prior to the incident. It has also emerged, based on news reports of his confession to police, that Sooraj had bought venomous snakes from a seller. He spent Rs 10,000 (Dh500 approximately) for both snakes.

In addition to this, he was with Uthara both times she was bit by snakes. He bought the second snake on April 24, two days after Uthara left for her hometown to recuperate from her hospitalisation in early March.

He reportedly confessed to letting the snake free on the bed, and watched the snake bite his wife. According to emerging reports, Sooraj then made sure Uthara was dead before calling for help. 

Uthara's family spoke to media outlets saying they believe that the alleged murder was motivated by financial gain and claimed that a lot of Uthara's gold was missing. Her parents claimed in interviews to regional media outlets that Uthara had talked about financial issues in her husband's family. Uthara was married off with substantial gold, at over 700 grams in weight.

Her parents also claimed that Uthara was being harassed for money at her marital home. 

The investigation team is also reportedly speaking to wildlife experts in addition to questioning more people connected to Sooraj. Police said on Sunday that Sooraj and any accomplices in the case would be under arrest soon. The team is waiting for the postmortem report for further procedures, officials told media.

Sooraj's parents told regional media outlets, "If he is guilty, let him be punished." His sister spoke to media outlets saying there was no way that Sooraj could never have done this and that she was always on good-terms with her sister-in-law.