On Sunday evening, reports started pouring in of the tragic murder of Goa-based artist Shireen Mody by her gardener at her home in Arpora. The act itself took place on Sunday morning, with sources saying that Mody’s gardener, a 68-year-old Assamese man by the name of Prafulla Jana, allegedly struck Mody in the back of the head with a zinc rod after luring her into the compound’s outhouse. Mody’s body was discovered by her daughter, fellow artist Saffron Wiehl and other staff members. Post the attack, Jana attempted to flee the crime scene by scaling the compound wall. In the process, the gardener grievously injured himself, and apparently succumbed to his injuries barely a hundred metres from the house.
A pre-meditated crime
Shireen Mody, an artist originally from Mumbai has been living in Goa for over 3 decades now, and together with her her daughter Saffron, have opened their own art studio, Studio Arpora, in Arpora. The gardener, Prafulla Jana has been a permanent member of the staff, living on the property and tending to it for years now. According to neighbours in Arpora, Jana was known to have had a drinking problem, often getting drunk and not carrying out his duties. This led to frequent altercations with Mody who would constantly reprimand him. In the initial investigation carried out by DSP Gajanan Prabudesai, he posits that somewhere between 10:30 am and 11am on Sunday morning, Jana called Shireen Mody to the outhouse storeroom opposite the house in the compound, under the guise of having some cleaning work carried out. It was there that he assaulted Mody, hitting her in the back of the head with a zinc rod.
An unsuccessful escape
After having committed the crime, the gardener Prafulla Jana attempted to escape by scaling the compound’s high walls. DSP Prabudesai in his initial report stated that after killing Mody, Jana would have tried to escape in a panic but failed to do so on account of the compound walls being so high. After going around the property for about a kilometre, DSP Prabudesai says that Jana must have fallen off the wall while trying to escape. He said that a woman in the area saw him holding on to the wall for support and offered him water, but instead of taking the help, indicated that a woman in the house was injured and should be tended to. He proceeded to flee the scene but was found by locals collapsed on the road a 100 meters away from the property. His body was taken to District Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
An ongoing investigation
The events of Sunday morning are still under active investigation. Shireen Mody and her daughter Saffron are well-known artists in Goa and highly respected members of the art community here. Their Arpora studio aptly titled ‘Studio Arpora’ was recently opened to display artwork by the mother and daughter duo. The space features Shireen Mody’s trademark acrylic on canvas artwork, along with her daughter Saffron’s watercolour and fine-line creations. Apart from framed pieces, the studio also features Saffron’s handpainted scarves, designer wrapping paper, and even kitchen towels with her signature motifs.
Since this is an ongoing story, we will continue to update the article as more information becomes available.