Auto Shankar

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This article is about the serial killer from Chennai. For the Kannada film, see Auto Shankar (film).
Auto Shankar
Born (1954-01-21)January 21, 1954
Chennai, India
Died April 27, 1995(1995-04-27) (aged 41)
Cause of death
Death by hanging
Criminal penalty
Victims 6
Span of killings
Country India

Auto Shankar (January 21, 1954 – April 27, 1995) is the nickname of Indian serial killer Gowri Shankar.[1][2]


Shankar and his gang, consisting of his younger brother Auto Mohan and associates Eldin and Shivaji, as well as Jayavelu, Rajaraman, Ravi, Palani and Paramasivam, were found guilty of six murders, committed over a period of two years in 1988–1989.[3] They were tried for the murders of Lalitha, Sudalai, Sampath, Mohan, Govindaraj and Ravi.[3] The bodies of the victims were either burnt or buried inside residential houses.[3]

In late 1988, over a period of approximately six months, nine teenage girls from the Thiruvanmiyur section of Chennai disappeared. In the beginning, investigators believed that the girls had been sold into prostitution by families unable to afford wedding dowries, but the consistent denials by their kin forced them to seek another explanation.[citation needed]

Late in December, a schoolgirl named Subalakshmi claimed that an auto rickshaw driver had attempted to abduct her in front of a wine shop. Working undercover in the local wine shop back-rooms, detectives learned of a rumour that an auto driver called Shankar was behind the crimes, disposing of the bodies by cremating them and pouring the remains into the Bay of Bengal. The following morning, the police picked up the suspect who overnight became known to the nation as "Auto Shankar".[citation needed]


Shankar's trial completed by the Chengalpattu sessions court;[3] He was sentenced to death along with two of his associates, Eldin and Shivaji, on May 31, 1991.[3] Auto Shankar was hanged in Salem Central Prison.[3]


In 2002, Shankar's five accomplices were sentenced to six months of Rigorous Imprisonment after having been found guilty by a Magistrate.[4] The accomplices were Shankar's brother, Mohan, Selva (alias Selvaraj) and the jail wardens Kannan, Balan and Rahim Khan.[4] They were found guilty of criminal conspiracy and resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension.[4]

Subsequently, Mohan was also found guilty of the six murders and was given three life sentences.[3] Mohan had earlier escaped from the Chennai Central Prison in August 1990 and was re-arrested in Pune on June 25, 1992.[3]


K. Vijay Kumar, the Tamil Nadu Additional Director-General of Police, claimed that cinema was solely responsible for making Shankar a criminal.[5] He mentioned this during a seminar on "Crime and Media" in Kerala.

The trial has become widely known across the nation since the Supreme Court invoked the American free speech doctrine and the case became oft-quoted in relation to cases of expose.[6][7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas, K.M. (9 September 1990). "The mass murderer of Madras". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Auto Shankar, two others sentenced to death". The Indian Express. 1 June 1991. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h The Hindu : Auto Shankar's brother gets life imprisonment
  4. ^ a b c The Hindu : RI for jail wardens in 'Auto' Shankar case
  5. ^ The Hindu : Media, police should not harm society's interests
  6. ^ The Hindu : Whistles, stings and slapps
  7. ^ The Hindu : Tehelka: what next?
  8. ^ The Hindu : The Tehelka Commission