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27 August 1947
Rehane Yavar Dhala
|Parent(s)||Ghulam Hussain Namazie (father)|
Gauhar Taj Begum (mother)
Shakereh Namazi, née Khaleeli (1947–1991) was an Indian woman, murdered by her second husband Swami shradhananda. She married in 1964 the diplomat Akbar Khaleeli, Indian envoy to Iran and Australia. They divorced in 1985, and the following year she married Shradhananda.
She was missed by her family in 1991 and the police alerted the next year. Her body was found buried at her home in 1994. She had been drugged and then suffocated, and buried in a coffin-like box. Shradhananda was convicted of the murder in 2005 and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2008.
Family and background
Shakereh was born in Madras on 27 August 1947 into an aristocratic Persian Muslim family from Shiraz in Persia who were residing in Singapore. She was the daughter of Gulam Hussain Namazie by his wife Gauhar Taj Begum, the youngest daughter of Sir Mirza Ismail, the longest serving Diwan of Mysore, Jaipur and later Hyderabad. She was also the grand-daughter of Mohammad Namazi, a successful businessman with interests in Iran, Singapore and America, known also for his philanthropic and charitable work in India, Singapore and Iran including the Namazi Hospital.
Shakereh did her schooling in Singapore as her parents resided there and had family interests in business, horses and charitable endeavours. In 1965, at age 18, Shakereh married her first cousin Akbar Mirza Khaleeli from Madras; their mothers were sisters Shah Taj Begum and Gauhar Taj Begum, both daughters of Sir Mirza Ismail. They have four daughters, Zeebundeh Khaleeli in 1966 Madras, Sabah Bakache 1967 Delhi, Rehane Yavar Dhala 1969 Paris, and Esmath Khaleeli 1972 Amman, Jordan.
Akbar Mirza Khaleeli was an outstanding sportsman and student through school Bishop Cotton Boys' School and later Doveton Corrie Protestant Schools Association, studied law at Loyola College, Chennai. He was considered the best tennis player in South India bar Ramesh Krishnan but instead joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1954. He went on to serve in various posts in Delhi, Bagdad, Sri Lanka, Paris and Jordan. He was finally promoted to serve as Indian Ambassador to Iran 1980-1985, to Italy, and as High Commissioner to Australia. He became an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. Shakereh was with him through most of his postings, save that to Iran during the Iranian revolution.
While her husband was in Iran she moved to Bangalore and engaged in construction, following her great-grandfather Aga Ali Asker who is still known for his buildings in Bangalore. She first built a family home on Sankey Road, Abshot Layout and a house for her mother on Ali Asker Road. She then redeveloped other family properties, evicting some of the tenants.
Murali Manohar Mishra, who had renamed himself as Swami Shradhananda, first met Shakereh and her husband in Bangalore in 1982. Akbar Mirza Khaleeli then took up a post in Iran, and on his return Shakereh divorced him and six months later, in April 1986, "Shakereh shunned her family and social norms" to marry Shradhananda. She gave Shradhanada access to her money and property. The couple reportedly quarrelled over relations with her daughters.
In 1991, Sabah, Shakereh's second daughter, found that she was unable to locate her mother. Despite repeated enquiries about Shakereh's whereabouts to her mother's second husband, he consistently avoided giving a proper answer. In 1992, Sabah's anxiety grew and she filed for a habeas corpus at the Ashok Nagar Police Station in Bangalore. For three years, the Swami evaded questions from the family, friends and legal authorities of the state. He lived in Bangalore like a king, pretending his wife was on a perpetual holiday.
In May 1994, the police of Karnataka finally found the skeletal remains of Shakereh's body buried deep in the courtyard of her own house. Shakereh's murder was one of the most heinous crimes of Indian criminal history. When the murder was disclosed, it shook the nation.
Shakereh had been killed on 28 April 1991. She had been drugged asleep, then placed on a mattress which was deposited in the coffin-like box already lying in the pit that had been dug in preparation. When Shakereh's skeletal remains were recovered and the mattress was removed, one of her hands was found clutching the mattress which lay below her.
Swami Shradhananda was taken into judicial custody after accepting the crime. The case also became an important milestone in the Indian judicial system as it was the first case where the exhumation process was recorded on video. The case was also the first time that DNA tests and videotapes of the exhumation were taken as evidence in India.
Trial and sentence
The case was first brought to trial in late 1997. On 21 May 2005 the Civil and Sessions Judge B.S. Totad sentenced Swami to capital punishment by hanging. Shradhananda betrayed no emotions as he stood in the dock, his head drooping as always. "From the facts and circumstances of the case, it is clear that the said murder has created such a fear in the minds of the family and in the community to live peacefully in society. There are no mitigating circumstances or factors to award a lesser punishment ... having regard to the nature of the methodology in committing the murder for gain, it is a fit case for capital punishment", the order read. The judge directed the jail authorities not to execute the death sentence until they received confirmation from the high court.
In the high court, on 12 September 2005, a two bench judge composed of Justices S.R. Bannurmath and A.C. Kabbin confirmed the death penalty to Shradhananda. Terming it the "rarest of rare cases" in their order, the division bench composed of Justices S R Bannurmath and A C Kabbin, said: "The accused had murdered his wife in a diabolical and a well-planned scheme. As such, the death penalty imposed on him is liable to be confirmed. Anything less than a penalty of greatest severity for any serious crime is thought to be a measure of tolerance that is unwarranted and unwise. The sessions court is justified in awarding death penalty to the accused."
Notice of appeal was lodged in July 2005. On 18 February 2006, Shradhananda issued notice to the Karnataka Government on special leave petition (SLP) questioning the high court judgment that had confirmed the death sentence in September 2005. The Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Tarun Chatterjee, stayed the high court judgment. On 22 July 2008, a life sentence for Shradhananda was ordered by the Indian Supreme Court in New Delhi.
- "Classic rich-girl-loves-poor-boy story". The Telegraph (Kolkata). 29 May 2005.
- "'My mother was alive when she was buried'he Shakereh Khaleeli murder case". Rediff On the Net. 21 September 1998.
- "Shakereh murder case: Final hearing in SC on April 2". Deccan Herald. 31 March 2008. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Notice to Government in Shakereh murder case". The Hindu. 6 July 2005.