Goa ’serial killer’ acquitted in one murder case

Saturday, January 2, 2010

PANAJI - A Goa court Saturday acquitted alleged serial killer Mahanand Naik in one of the 16 murder cases he was charged with in 2009.

Naik, an unemployed part-time autorickshaw driver whose alleged murderous exploits spread over a decade created a wave of fear in Goa, was acquitted by District and Sessions Judge (South Goa) Desmond D’Costa for lack of evidence in the murder of Surat Gaonkar in 2006.

Naik was arrested by Quepem police under Sections 302, 395 and 201 of IPC for murder, stealing gold ornaments and destroying evidence.

Gaonkar was strangulated in March 2006 near a desolate wooded area called Chandranath, a few days before police found her decomposed body.

Gaonkar was allegedly one of Naik’s 16 victims, most of whom were in their late 30s and belonged to an economically weaker background. Police said that Naik’s modus operandi involved wooing his targets with quick marriage without dowry. He would then invite them to meet his parents and specially request them to wear their gold ornaments.

On the way, he would allegedly strangle them with their own “dupattas” in a remote area before stripping them of their gold ornaments and money and disposing off the bodies.

Naik allegedly murdered his victims between 1994 and 2009, before he was accidentally arrested by the police in May last year in connection with a sexual harassment case and confessed to his crimes in police custody. Once arrested in the mid-1990s as a suspect in a murder, he was allegedly released after the intervention of a local Congress politician.

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