Celebs fall for easy cash

Shalu Menon
Shalu Menon
Alappuzha: They are well educated, have acted in films and serials and have been the face of several brands. And so it was with shock that Keralites learnt of the arrests of two popular film stars, Shalu Menon and Leena Maria Paul for alleged fraud and cheating. Both women have since confessed that a desire for a lavish lifestyle and easy money, drove them to crime.
While 25-year-old Leena,  who was born in Kerala but brought up elsewhere, extorted Rs 19.22 crore  from a Chennai bank with the help of her sweetheart Balaji , Shalu, who started her career as a devoted dancer, was arrested for extorting Rs 75 lakh with the help of her fiance.
Leena Maria Paul 
The latest con woman on the scene is Saritha S. Nair, whose escapades have jolted the two–and- half-year-old Oomen Chandy government. Born and brought up in Chengannur she passed her SSLC with a distinction and married a businessman in Dubai after doing a diploma in a polytechnic.
But the marriage ended in divorce in 2006 and she  fell in love with Biju Radhakrishnan, whose wife Reshmi complained to the police that Saritha had wrecked her marriage. Reshmi was later found mysteriously dead in her bathroom.
Among women in crime who are still at large is Dr Omana Edadan, a notorious medico, who was arrested for a gruesome murder that took place in the dark of the night on July 11, 1996, in the retiring room of the Ooty railway station.
Omana, an ophthalmologist, is alleged to have killed her lover Muralidharan of Payyannur by injecting him with poison and then  chopping his body into pieces and stuffing it into a suitcase. When she did not succeed in throwing the suitcase into a gorge, she hired a taxi to Kodaikanal to dispose of it, according to the police. 
And on November 7, 2009, a 27–year-old charming girl named Sherin shook the conscience of Kerala  when she murdered her father- in-law, Bhaskara Karanavar, who had returned after retirement from the United States, by hatching a plot to do away with him with her  lover Basit Ali.
Police found that Sherin had seduced Ali and promised him they would live together if he could  kill Karanavar. She was sentenced to life on June11 , 2010 by the Mavelikara court.
In 2006  Shobha John,  who holds the dubious honour of being the only woman on the Kerala police’s goonda list,  made headlines  when she blackmailed and then kidnapped the former Thanthri (head priest) of Sabarimala, Kandaru Mohanaru.  
One of her gang members who was arrested by the police sang like a canary and accused Shobha of murdering one of the men from her own group. James Vadakkancherry, a reputed criminologist , says with women getting more opportunity to emerge from the four walls of their homes they are doing anything and everything , even crime.
“With better education and increasing social exposure, women have grown increasingly confident . But the basic reasons for celebrities turning to  crime is greed and the thirst for luxury,", he believes.
Assistant professor in psychiatry, Arun B. Nair,  of the Thiruvananth­apuram Medical College says the obsession with money and position is high among women who have failed to make it big in the world of glamour.
“Women who work in glamorous fields like modelling and movies have often shown border line personality traits. They have a tendency to want to exhibit themselves to the public. Also,  women like Shalu and Leena become soft targets of vested interests as they would even die to make money, ” he says.  
Uthara Unni 
Justice D Sreedevi, a former chairman of the women’s commission, believes there are many reasons why women like Shalu and Leena end up being criminals. “There are no role models in society as well as in films. A lot of women  who have acted in just two or three films live a life of luxury, earning from other sources as well. The newcomers simply follow their footsteps. Alcoh­olism among women is also on the rise and some  commit any crime when inebriated,” he says. 
In fact, eight wo­men have been convicted in alcohol related cases so far and  27 are facing trial for similar crime. 
A techie  with an MNC in Kochi, Sonia Elizhbath Padam­adan, says, the plight of the two actresses should be a lesson for all woman  who run after a luxurious lifestyle.. “Girls need to think twice before they befriend men who approach them offering boundless luxury. They need to consider where the money they spend comes from,”  she cautions.


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