The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Who is Suhaib Ilyasi?

OOP Digital Desk: Former TV producer Suhaib Ilyasi was today sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife 17 years ago. SK Malhotra, the additional sessions judge, also imposed a ₹2 lakh fine on Suhaib and ordered him to pay ₹10 lakh as compensation to his wife’s parents.

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A Delhi court, on 16 December, convicted Suhaib of stabbing his wife Anju to death. He was arrested on 28 March 2000 after his in-laws raised allegations of dowry torture against him and moved court. The charges were later upgraded to murder after Anju’s mother Rukma Singh, and sister Rashmi Singh, moved Delhi High Court in 2014.

But who is Suhaib Ilyasi?

The name should certainly ring a bell among most regular TV watchers. In the late nineties, Suhaib Ilyasi became a household name, courtesy the huge success of his crime show India’s Most Wanted (IMW). He was the producer, director and anchor of the show, and had a huge loyal audience that religiously tuned in to watch him. His style of presentation of real-life crime stories was hitherto unseen on Indian TV.

Suhaib Ilyasi met Anju Singh in 1989 at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi where both of them were students of mass communication. Anju’s father, KP Singh, was the head of the metallurgy department at Jamia. Both Suhaib and Anju’s families opposed their marriage. But the couple exchanged wedding vows in London in 1993.

Suhaib went to UK in 1991 to work as a cameraperson for TV Asia. He and his wife shot a pilot episode for a crime show. Most TV channels were apprehensive about the idea but Zee TV finally took it up. IMW was first broadcast in March 1998.

Anju and Suhaib were unhappy in their married life. They were about to divorce in 1994 but reconciled. Their daughter Aaliya was born next year.

IMW was highly successful. It was a 52-episode show but Zee TV renewed the contract with Suhaib Ilyasi for additional episodes. The show reportedly gave several leads to nab criminals like Shiv Prakash Shukla, a wanted hitman, later killed in a police encounter. Uttar Pradesh Police, however, clarified that they were working on Shukla’s case for long and credit to Suhaib was unfair.

Suhaib alleged in 1999 that he was getting threats and sought a personal security. He did cameos in films like Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000) and a few others. He parted ways with his business partner Viond Nayar and launched a new show for Doordarshan titled Fugitive Most Wanted.

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Suhaib Ilyasi, after his wife’s death, tried to make a film on Shukla with himself in the lead. But the project was a non-starter. He later worked with India TV and carried out sting operations on actors Shakti Kapoor and Aman Verma. He launched a magazine called Bureaucracy Today in March 2009, where he was the editor-in-chief.

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