Sudden rush of blood

Bloody moment: A scene from a theatrical production of Dostoyevsky’s epic novel Crime and Punishment (representational image )

Passion can make ordinary people commit ghastly acts of violence, even murder. Jealous rage affects both genders, as crimes recently committed in Delhi show

Passion can be the mother of ghastly murders. This gory phenomenon was demonstrated many times in the Capital in the last few months. A crime of passion is a violent crime where the perpetrator kills the object of his/her love in a fit of anger or impulse of sudden rage. It’s usually not a premeditated attack. Over the last week, the city of Delhi has offered many instances of crimes of passion — like the murder of an army major’s wife by a fellow officer.

The victim, Shailja Dwivedi, a confident woman in her early thirties, was a winner of Mrs India Earth title last year. Married to Major Amit Dwivedi, she was allegedly brutally murdered by her husband’s colleague Major Nikhil Rai Handa, who slit her throat and dumped her by the roadside at a desolate place near Brar Square in Delhi Cantonment before crushing her repeatedly with his car to make it seem like a road accident.

The story put out by the police is that Shailja and Handa were having a secret affair since 2015. Amit only came to know of it six months before the murder. Handa was keen to marry Shailja, but she was reluctant. He was arrested a day after the murder by Delhi Police from Meerut where he was hiding.

Investigations show that the killer tried to misguide the police by wiping out every possible shred of evidence. He had his car washed before escaping to Meerut. The forensic team, however, was able to find strands of hairs and bloodstains in the car. The cops also found out that WhatsApp was uninstalled from the victim’s mobile soon after her murder.

Apparently, Handa was active on social media made acquaintance with Shailja on Facebook three years back. In order to meet her, he befriended her husband and became a frequent visitor at their home. It seems they started an illicit affair from last year, which police sources deduct from the fact that both were actively in touch on WhatsApp. More than 3,000 calls were made and 1,500 messages were shared between the two in past six months. Dwivedi came to know of the extramarital liaison when he saw a video call between the two. He confronted Handa and severed all contact between him and Shailja.

Why Handa would then murder the paramour he could not meet any more is a bit of a mystery to observers. But that is how crimes of passion unfold. A study carried by the University of Buffalo published by Medical Daily establishes that ‘feelings of love’ can compel people ‘to do harmful and sometimes violent’ things to other people.

The study found that there are two neurohormones responsible for it— oxytocin and vasopressin. They have a dual role, as they are hormones when in the blood and neurotransmitters when in the brain. They regulate mood swings. “Both oxytocin and vasopressin seem to serve a function leading to increased ‘approach behaviours,’” Michael J Poulin, associate professor of psychology at UB says.

‘Approach behaviours’ are the movements and actions toward other people or objects, and arise from feelings of either closeness or aggression. The opposite is ‘avoidant behaviours’, which tend to stem from negative reactions. “In situations where we care about someone very much, as humans, we were motivated to benefit them. “But if there is someone else in the way, we may do things to harm that third party,” Poulin explains.

And this is not something that has a gender bias – women can also plot the murder of the man they once loved. One Pooja is alleged to have instigated her lover Mohit Bhati, an unemployed young man residing in Dadri, a small dusty town in the outskirts of Delhi, to kill her husband Mukesh and, a year later, her brother-in-law Manoj.

Bhati has told the police after his arrest that Mukesh was a friend and a neighbour. He later developed an intimate friendship with Mukesh’s wife Pooja. Mukesh came to know about the affair and he confronted and castigated Pooja. The tension between the married couple grew and Mukesh ended up physically assaulting Pooja to an extent that she snapped. Pooja convinced Bhati to kill Mukesh in cold blood. Bhati allegedly chopped Mukesh’s head and threw his body on a railway track in Dadri. After the murder, the affair between the two blossomed.

A year after Mukesh’s death, Pooja shifted to her brother-in-law’s house in Delhi. She continued to meet Bhati at her brother-in-law’s place, to which Manoj objected. Manoj was suspicious of what was happening between the two, and it possibly was the reason of his brother’s murder. Pooja passionate about her relationship with Bhati resented Manoj’s meddling. She convinced Bhati to commit the second murder, and so it was Manoj’s turn. Pooja tipped off Bhati about Manoj’s movements. Bhati shot him dead at an opportune moment. Bhati was arrested by Delhi Police, who later spilled the beans that led to Pooja’s arrest.

Jealous rage seems to be the reason for other crimes of passion, where the murderer does not even care about ruining his own future by committing a crime as heinous as murder. Mere suspicion becomes an adequate motive. For instance, on May 29, a 24-year-old youth was killed in Badarpur locality, allegedly by his neighbour, on suspicion that his wife was having an affair with him, according to police. The husband was so outraged that he stabbed his wife’s supposed paramour 10 times on his torso. The victim’s father, Moti Lal, told cops that he too was threatened by the accused, who warned him not to disclose his identity.

As is clear from the above examples, these murders have taken place in various strata of society. From a highly trained Army officer to a working class person, they stand to lose everything they have worked for, but still go ahead and take another life.
Like legendary English author, Oscar Wilde, famously wrote, ‘a beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion…….behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’

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