Kalpetta: The abduction and murder of a Mysuru-based traditional healer has shed light on the phenomenal rise of Shaibin Ashraf, the alleged mastermind of the brutal crime.
Ashraf’s is a typical rags-to-riches story with several parallel sub-plots — of a mystery business, raising of henchmen, vaulting ambition, cheating, conflict, murder and hubris.
The 42-year-old man’s rise from a hut at Maithanikunnu to an ‘industrialist’ with assets worth Rs 350 crore, living an opulent life in swanky rented accommodations at Manikkuni and Manthondikunnu in Sulthan Bathery town to his own residence at Puthankunnu is awe-inspiring.
Ashraf began as a lorry-cleaner in Bathery, and later drove an autorickshaw for a living. The break came when his mother left for the Middle East after landing a job there.
Using his mother’s connections, Ashraf too reached the Gulf, a turning point in his life that soon took the fast lane. Back home, he soon became a ‘benevolent’ wealthy person, who helped several youngsters find a foothold in life. Unknown to all, it was Ashraf’s ploy to build an empire of his own.
He started the construction of his residence at Puthankunnu on Ooty Road seven years ago. The splurge did not go unnoticed. Those who knew him, wondered about his source of income.
Ashraf had a ready reply. He ‘revealed’ about his joint diesel business with an Arab in Abu Dhabi. No one questioned the means by which the former auto-rickshaw driver raised the capital to float the lucrative business. It still remains shrouded in mystery.
Rumour, however, has it that he was into supplying fuel to Houthi rebels.
Ashraf won the trust of several youngsters and even took several of them abroad. He presented costly gifts, cars and two-wheelers, to his confidants, besides helping some others to establish fish stalls in Wayanad.
Contract (quotation) business
Shaibin Ashraf debuted the contract crime scene after challenging a gang headed by U P Jose alias ‘Seizing’ Jose, a known criminal in the police’s goonda list.
Ashraf had a 30-member strong ‘associates’, and he assigned them several businesses. He invested in ginger and pepper cultivation, besides starting fish, and textile businesses. He opened an office in Wayanad to bring clothes from Bengaluru in bulk, distribute them to outlets in various districts.
Several of his associates had by then turned against Ashraf. They, however. kept low, fearing assault, and succumbed to threats that they would be implicated in criminal cases.
Meanwhile, Ashraf was suffering from a renal ailment, which required a kidney transplant. After the treatment, he became active in business again, but was jailed for two years in Abu Dhabi in a case. The imprisonment halted the construction of his house.
Ashraf returned to Wayanad after his release from prison and bought a house. His criminal bent of mind was revealed when he lodged a complaint with Nilambur police against his now associate-turned-foe Noushad and others, who created a scene at his residence for not giving them the promised money.
The police complaint, however, was a miscalculated move by Ashraf. It lead to a suicide drama in front of the State Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, which unravelled the mystery behind the disappearance of the Mysuru healer Shaba Sharif, 60.
Sharif, who had left home in August 2019 with a then unidentified man to treat an elderly man suffering from hemorrhoids never returned.
His family came to know — along with the rest of the world this week that he had been held hostage at Ashraf’s residence, tortured for the secret formula of the drug used in the treatment, killed, chopped into pieces and thrown into the Chaliyar in 2020.