“You lady are my number one suspect” commented Rakesh Maria the former Head of Mumbai Crime Branch to Maria Susairaj the now infamous Kannada starlet and a key player in what turned out to be one of the most gruesome and intriguing murder cases that India has ever witnessed i.e. Neeraj Grover murder case . The victim in this unfortunate incident was a young television executive from Kanpur Neeraj Grover. This case had all the essential elements for a perfect Bollywood crime thriller (no wonder maverick director Ram Gopal Varma made a movie Not a love story based on this case). Not only did this case have perfect elements for a movie but also makes for an intriguing case study of human psychology.
This case is basically interesting because of the characters and the emotions involved between the three key players in this case i.e. Neeraj Grover, Maria Susairaj and Emile Jerome. To begin with this case like many other cases begins with misplaced ambition among the youth of India today. Today in India due to the growth of various television channels fame has become a very accessible for the younger generations. As a result of this easy accessibility to fame the youth of India today crave for fame and that too at any cost and with utter disregard to discipline and moral values. It was in search of this very perverse “fame” that brought Maria Susairaj to Mumbai which eventually lead to the tragic death of Neeraj Grover. It all began with the ambitions of Maria Susairaj a girl from small town of Mysore in Karnataka with stars in her eyes to hopefully become famous in the Indian entertainment industry. Although Maria was from a economically well off family with her father Joseph Susairaj running a construction firm yet that did not satisfy her and her need to become famous and have a good life was very strongly embedded in her personality. Apart from the need to be famous and lead a great lifestyle there was another striking feature in her personality that was soon to become the trigger for this incident and that feature was her interest in men. Now Maria was not only beautiful but also possessed a charm that could seduce any man she set her eyes on. This was quite evident by the number of relationships she had with men like her former acting teacher Asha Chandra commented “She manipulated boys was always friendly with the men in her group but hardly interacted with the girls”. It is this ability of Maria to manipulate boys by seducing them that triggered the unfortunate turn of events eventually leading to the murder of Neeraj. So as far as Maria goes it was her ambitions and her inherent ability to seduce men when she wanted them that acted as the trigger for the murder but it was actually her naval lieutenant boyfriend Emile Jerome’s extreme obsession for her that undertook this outrageous murder that also included cutting Neeraj’s body into parts and the disposing it in an isolated spot in Manor.
Emile Jerome just like Maria also belonged to an affluent and conservative Jerome family in Mysore. Coincidentally Maria also happened to be Emile’s senior at school. A naval lieutenant by profession who cleared the Naval’s Engineer’s Course in 2000 and was sent to Goa for a six month orientation. Apart from being an intelligent and a very capable naval officer Jerome had big problems with his temper a characteristic in his personality that was to play a huge part in the murder of Neeraj. Such was his temper that his childhood friend Vinay Kumar S commented “ A whole group of boys from our school once convinced me to shut Emilie’s eyes as he returned from a water break but such was his fury as I held him that I could feel his body shivering with the force of his anger”. He also had become possessive about Maria and he also did not like the fact that Maria was an actress which just indicates the extent that Emilie’s possessiveness for Maria had grown. It was this extreme possessiveness that slowly turned to obsession which eventually caused Emilie out of sheer jealousy to brutally murder Neeraj Grover.
As for the victim Neeraj Grover a TV executive from Kanpur whose parents are Amarnath and Neelam Grover although he did not certainly deserve the brutal death that he got he certainly was no saint and his personality certainly played a big role in his death. To begin with Neeraj was a charming 27-year old TV executive from Kanpur who enjoyed the company of different woman. The fact that he loved the company of woman was substantiated by one of Neeraj’s friend Deepak Kumar who said “Neeraj could easily switch from one woman to another without wasting his emotions.” It was this trait in his personality that seduced Maria into believing that Neeraj through his contact in Balaji Telefilms his former employers could get a role on Television and with that a chance to be famous. It is his charms and suave personality along with false promises to Maria that got Neeraj into trouble. He was also known to live life on the edge as Ekta Kapoor Indian television’s Queen and Neeraj’s former employer commented” He was seemingly sweet, but the boy liked to play dangerous games”.
So the question then arises is how did this entire tragedy unfold and that too with absolute brutal consequences. It all began when Maria came down from Bangalore to Mumbai on the April 29th 2008 with an intention of a final attempt at the elusive stardom. What also gave Maria some hope was that Neeraj who worked at Balaji Telefilms and who met her around March while she was auditioning for Balaji kept in touch with her and encouraged her to come to Mumbai as there were more roles to offer here than in Bangalore. Thus with his inherent charm Neeraj certainly convinced Maria to come to Mumbai. In the meanwhile Emile had started becoming more and more possessive about Maria. It was also during these days that Maria has started bringing Neeraj’s name quite often during their daily conversations with Emile causing even more insecurity and jealousy in Emile. It was on the May 6th 2008 when Emile called Maria and it was during this very call he was supposedly to have heard Neeraj who was with Maria at that time say “What kind of a fiancé is he when his girlfriend needs another man to be with her” and this statement most probably was the trigger that provoked an insecure Emile from his naval base at Cochin to travel to Mumbai that very night. It was around seven in the morning on the 7th May 2008 that Emilie arrived at Dheeraj Solatire where Maria lived. On entering the apartment Emilie saw Neeraj fast asleep in his underpants. It was when Neeraj opened his eyes and commented “Oh so this is your boyfriend” that the insecure Emilie finally snapped and he attacked Neeraj. It was during this scuffle that Emile manage to find a knife from the kitchen and stab Neeraj to death. It was after stabbing Neeraj to death that Emile forced Maria to have sex with him. As Rakesh Maria rightly commented “It was a way of cementing an unspoken deal. They were in this together now.” After stabbing the victim Emilie along with Maria washed and mopped the house which was drenched in victim’s blood. He then instructed Maria to get carving knife and fresh set of curtains which Maria did by shopping at the mall Hypercity which is at a close proximity to Dheeraj Solitaire. As Maria returned with the knife Emile then set out to do what can only termed as brutal i.e. cut the victim’s body into different. It took Emilie approximately three hours to finally cut the body into separate parts. The body parts were then carried in two suit cases and three large plastic bags in a blue grey Santro belonging to one of Maria’s acquaintances Kiran Shreyans. It was eventually on May 21st 2008 that the murder of Neeraj Grover was confirmed by the now former head of Mumbai Crime branch Rakesh Maria and bringing to an end one of the most brutal murder’s India has ever seen in recent years.
So how did the situation get this far and how did it lead to a such a tragic death of young man is the question to be asked. The answer really is that it is the personality of Maria, Emilie and Neeraj together that created such a situation that there was no way out except the path to self destruction. It began with Maria’s ambition to become popular and to be seen on television, Emile’s possessiveness for Maria that turned into obsession and to top it all the victim Neeraj himself played his part with his fascination to play dangerous games and live on the edge. So the moral of this story especially for the younger generation is that being a good human being with good moral values must be top priority before thinking about the materialistic pleasures available in the world today. Unfortunately though misplaced ambitions among the young and craze for materialistic pleasures is only growing in our country and I for one will not be surprised if there is another Neeraj Grover case waiting to happen just around the corner.