There's the cliché about love making people move mountains. There's, however, nothing remotely boilerplate about Gokul Machery's elaborate plan to get back with his college girlfriend. The Bangalore exec's plan involved a murder, an extortion demand to a New Delhi-based telecom CEO, the Islamic State and a climactic hoax call that moved seven international Air India flights to disarray and proved to be his undoing.
Several news agencies have recreated the details of the case based on conversations with police officials but no formal charges have yet been filed. However the details, that pivot on Machery's alleged confession to the police, throw up a sequence of events infinitely more labyrinthine than the Indrani Mukerjea-Sheena Bora murder.
LOVE AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS
Gokul Machery, 33, who's now in police custody, was married to Anuradha who taught in an engineering college. They met in Ranchi, got married but appeared to not get along well, after a few years when Gokul began to suspect his wife of having an extra-marital affair. "Gokul's marriage came under strain because he worked late hours. One day, he searched his wife's mobile and claims to have found intimate messages from a man," an investigating police officer told The Telegraph.
From here begins the first of Machery's convolutions.
Gokul, seemingly wanted to get rid of his wife and show her as unfaithful. He opened a fake email address in 2011 under the name "Baba" - and later another under the name "Asha", acronym for astrology, spirituality, humility, attention and began corresponding with her as a godman. He told the police that he got the religious Anuradha to "confess" to her affair.
Officers said Gokul began writing to Anuradha from these addresses, suggesting tantric rituals that would help her continue the affair without divorcing her husband. He then asked for and received nude pictures of Anuradha with her alleged lover. This charade lasted for four years.
Even as Anuradha's deception continued, Gokul claimed to have contacted his college sweetheart, who was now married to a fellow information-technology executive called Jose.
THE SECOND PLAN
Gokul, a marketing executive with Indus Network in Bangalore, wanted Jose out of the way, and he reasoned that getting Jose involved in a terror-related case would put him away for some years. And in this time, he could separate from Anuradha and get close to Jose's wife.
The 'terror case' that Gokul concocted involved pro-Islamic State Twitter-handle operator Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who was picked up in December 2014 for allegedly tweeting and re-tweeting IS (Islamic State) propaganda material. Gokul followed the details of the investigation, gathered posts forwarded by Biswas and used them to create yet another profile, this time on Facebook, called 'Salman Islam,' that linked to an email account in Jose's name.
Salman Islam's page revealed several incendiary posts including plans to blow up airports and Gokul thought that this would worry the cops enough to trace the identity of Islam. To ramp up the invective, Islam's posts were garnished with tirades against PM Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh.
According to the police, Gokul said he managed photocopies of Jose's passport and school-leaving certificate to get a sim card that he later used to make threatening phone calls and bomb hoax calls to Bangalore and New Delhi airports. Different agencies have varying versions on whether Jose's wife was complicit in helping Gokul with access. As a finishing touch he threatened a Delhi-based telecom industrialist and demanded a ransom worth crores to spare his life.
Thus Jose, alias Salman Islam, was, in the imagination of Gokul, the perfect terrorist and only moments away from being apprehended by the every investigation agency from the National Investigating Agency to the Bengaluru police.
In the middle of all of this, he allegedly murdered his wife.
"On July 28, Gokul got Anuradha drunk and confronted her with proof of her affair. A quarrel broke out when she threatened to go back to Delhi, and he whacked her with a Ganesh idol. She bled to death," the investigating officer told the Telegraph.
Gokul called his father-in-law, a former police officer, in Ranchi and convinced him that Anuradha had, in a drunken state, hit her head against the TV stand and died. The Indian Express reported that Gokul wanted Anuradha killed to ensure custody of their three-year-old daughter.
With Anuradha out of the way, Gokul got back to his original mission of getting Jose behind bars.
Gokul called the Kempegowda International Airport, and later Delhi international airport, where he claimed that bombs have been planted in three international flights. Security checks were carried out leading to the delay of the flights. KIA Terminal Manager on duty had received messages on WhatsApp from a local mobile number, threatening to blast three flights with specific details besides the airport cargo section. The threats also included messages such as "Islamic state wins" and "get ready to see the firework above sea today."
Airport authorities in both places said they received calls late in the night and early morning from anonymous callers saying bombs have been placed in some planes.
In Delhi, two of the planes affected at the IGI airport -- a Jet Airways’ flight and a Cathay Pacific flight both bound for Hong Kong -- were already airborne when they were called back.
THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Last Saturday, the Bangalore police traced the Airtel number from which the threat call was made to Jose, where inspite of a search they didn't find the offending SIM card. The Indian Express reported that the police then took Jose and his family in Gokul's car. Somebody on the police team then noticed that the SIM card appeared to be moving, which is when a search showed it within a phone hidden in the floor of the car.
That's when suspicion descended on Gokul and his carefully-detailed plans began to unravel. First the police found that the Facebook accounts were created on Gokul's laptop and then they discovered Google searches of flight plans of the Delhi and Bengaluru airport. Later, on interrogation, Gokul revealed his role and motive.