Keralite trio’s death in Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro puzzles police of two states

Three lifeless bodies in a hotel shocked Ziro. It also ignited speculations ranging from paranormal to sinister cult involvements in Kerala.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Apr 06, 2024 | 4:56 PMUpdatedApr 06, 2024 | 4:56 PM

Ziro Valley in Arunachal

The Kerala police realised that their search for a missing woman, Arya B Nair, had ended abruptly after a phone call from their Arunachal Pradesh counterparts reached Thiruvananthapuram.

On 2 April, three tourists — a man and two women — were found dead in room 305 of Blue Pine Hotel in Ziro. After establishing their identities, the northeastern state police rang up the police in Kerala.

Ziro, some 115 km from Arunachal’s capital Itanagar, is a tourist paradise with verdant valleys stretching towards the mighty Himalayas at a distance.

The Kerala police earlier learnt that Arya’s friends Naveen Thomas and his wife Devi B had gone on a vacation. However, attempts to contact them over the phone failed.

The news of the tragedy ignited a frenzy of speculations ranging from the paranormal to sinister cult involvements behind the deaths in Kerala.

With both Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala police being inundated with diverse, chilling theories, a special joint investigation team was tasked with untangling the web of mystery surrounding the death of the three Keralites.

Thomas, Devi, and Arya were found dead with slashed wrists. While Devi was found dead on the floor, Arya’s body was on the bed. Both had deep cuts on their right wrists.

Devi’s body also bore a deep cut on the left nape. Naveen’s body was found in the attached bathroom with his left wrist slashed. A steel blade was also found in the room.

Also read: Kerala wildlife photographer’s daughter among 3 found dead in Arunachal Pradesh

The first hint

According to District Lower Subansiri’s Superintendent of Police Keni Bagra, who held a press meeting on 3 April, there was a minimum struggle in the room except for a tea table with its glass top broken. “Even the bedsheets were not creased,” the officer said.

“The police team found a note in the room. It said ‘We are happy and we know where we are going’ and provided a phone number. When contacted, a man picked up and when intimated, he started crying. He said two of the deceased are his daughter and son-in-law,” the officer said.

The man who picked up the phone to hear about his daughter Devi’s death was Balan Madhavan, a wildlife photographer.

“In between, he said he had warned them not to get involved in occultism and supernatural groups,” Bagra said.

The officer added that the man said that the other dead woman could be a missing person and a case was registered at a local police station in Thiruvananthapuram (Vattiyoorkkavu police station on 27 March).

“The note which we got from that room was signed by three persons. One might be Naveen’s as we verified it with the one in the hotel register. We will have to verify the other two,” he said.

Also read: Kattappana double murder: Deceased’s wife arrested, neonate’s body yet to be found

Introduced Arya as daughter

It is learnt that the trio checked into the hotel on 28 March. Naveen introduced Arya to the hotel staff as his daughter. He also handed over his identification proof to the staff. Though the staff demanded the other two’s ID proof, Naveen reportedly said that he would submit them later.

“Upon investigation, we found that they were in the hotel from 28 March to 31 March. But on 1 April the staff did not see them. Their knocks at the door went unanswered. When it repeated the next day, the hotel staff forcefully entered the room and found two dead bodies. We found the third body,” Bagra told reporters in Ziro.

Five places involved

As per the preliminary investigation, five places —  Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Ziro — have connections with the death of the three.

While Naveen hailed from Kottayam, Devi and Arya belonged to Thiruvananthapuram. Investigators who handled Arya’s missing case found that she had travelled to Kolkata and then to Guwahati. An intimation in this regard was also given to the Assam Police.

What will the joint team investigate?

Going by the clues given by the SP in the press meet, the special investigation team (SIT) formed by the Arunachal Pradesh Police would look into why the three had chosen Ziro, if it was their first visit, whether they had met anyone at Ziro, and their possible local acquaintances.

The Kerala SIT would be focusing mainly on digital evidence to find the plot behind the deaths.

“We got some information that indicates that the three were involved in some kind of occult practices. But we can’t reveal what it is,” an officer said.

The Arunachal Pradesh Police also indicated that they had found some clues (materials) from the room. But the SP refused to jump to conclusions.

It has been reported that the trio had extensively searched the net for extra-terrestrial life. Naveen was an online trader while the women were teachers and colleagues.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).