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Khooni: The Crimes of India tries to navigate the murky waters of true crime in their country, India! We chatted with hosts, Sneha and Aditi about their interest in true crime, and what inspired them to start a podcast.

MMN: What inspired you to start your podcast?

Aditi: I have had an almost unhealthy obsession with the true crime genre since my late teens. I loved In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. I used to watch documentaries on Youtube, and then I discovered the wonderful world of true crime podcasts. This was great, because all of a sudden there were hours of binge-able content, which I could consume while doing other things. There were so many from different parts of the world, especially the US, but I couldn’t find anything similar from India itself. So I found a kindred spirit in Sneha, and we mulled on the idea for a while, before Covid completely upended our lives, and we decided to start our project in March, just as the country was going into lockdown. 

Sneha: Credit where credit’s due, it was Aditi’s idea. Despite being good friends throughout Law School, we only realized that the other was into true crime many years after we graduated. Then obviously there was a lot of talk about what Podcasts we listen to and such. Then I think around last August we both sort of realized that there is no thoroughly researched True Crime Podcast in India. 

One day Aditi texted me out of the blue and said she wanted to start one, but was obviously put off by the sheer effort that would take. In fact, that was the first time when I really looked into what goes into creating a podcast. By December, we had solidified the idea, but the rollout was scheduled for September 2020. I already had a mic at home, and I used my credit card points to send Aditi one.

Then in March Covid-19 Lockdown started, and we realised that we had some time and started Khooni

This is a very very home grown independent scene. My friend designed our Logo for free, and another friend who is a lawyer pursuing psychology helps with the Psychology side of Khooni whenever we need it. 

MMN: What got you interested in true crime? Was there a murder in your hometown? A story that has always haunted you? 

Aditi: A story that haunts me, is one we covered on our podcast as well, Marichjhapi Massacre. It is a heartbreaking story of refugees who came to India in the state of West Bengal, in search of a better life after being persecuted in Bangladesh for their faith. They settled on an uninhabited island called Marichjhapi, and created a self-sustaining settlement with zero help from the government. The island had a school, a clinic, markets, etc all within a span of a few months. But unfortunately, West Bengal Government, under the garb of protecting the environment, brutally evacuated them from the island. It has rarely been talked about in the country, because in the 70s the state government imposed a media gag, so most people in the country don’t even know about it. But it is an inspiring and poignant story nevertheless.     

Sneha: A story that haunts me is the murder of Pranay Kumar, it happened in a town that is very close to my city. Pranay and his wife Amrutha eloped and married each other as her family was not agreeing to the wedding because Pranay did not belong to Amrutha’s caste. So a few months later when Amrutha was pregnant and they were going to a prenatal checkup, her father employed someone to hack Pranay to death with a machete. This story came as a shock to my state because caste discrimination is  not talked about, it is something that we all knows exists, but it is never spoken about.

Both these are incidents that also highlight the Caste based divide that is a huge societal problem in India right now.

MMN: What’s a murder, disappearance, or crime story that keeps you up at night?

A story that keeps us up at night is the Burari Family Hangings. This happened in New Delhi, 2018. 11 members of a family died by suicide, and the neighbours found the bodies hanging inside the house, the next morning. There was a lot of speculation about their association with Black Magic, and theories about why they did what they did.

MMN: What true crime podcasts are you listening to right now? If podcasts aren’t your thing, we would also love to hear about a spooky book you’re reading or your favorite murder-related tv show! 

Podcasts : Dr.Death by Wondery and Sex , Lies and Cyanide by Spotify Studios; Book : Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction by Ajay Lamba, Sanjeev Mathur

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