Shailza Diwedi murder case: What makes people kill in the name of love?

Ever heard of morbid jealously? A psychiatrist helps us know what makes people kill in the name of love.

The Shailza Diwedi murder case has taken the whole nation by shock. No, this isn't the first time we are hearing about a jilted lover obsessed with his one-sided love killing his love interest in a fit of rage. But what is more alarming is the fact that the accused in question isn't a roadside Romeo from whom such behaviour is suspected but an Army Major, an officer of the highest ranks.

We have debated this for long that education, respect in society, experience makes one mature enough to learn the art of letting go despite the scars it leaves behind when love goes sour. But this murder goes to tell us that probably obsession has the ability to ruffle sanity of thoughts like no other, put logic to the backseat and let passion take over reason and sane judgements.

Unless you are living under the rock there are fewer chances that you haven't heard about this murder case. An army Major Nikhil Handa is accused of the murder of Shailza Diwedi wife of his colleague Major Amit Diwedi whom he was so obsessed with that he wanted to marry her. Before the murder, Handa met Shailza and had a heated argument over the matter following which Handa slit her throat, threw her out of the car and ran over her to showcase it as a case of road accident. So, much for the person, he claimed to be in love with and marry leaving behind his wedded wife and family.

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Love gone sour

It isn't like we have not heard about married men going in for one-night-stands, affairs, romantic liaisons with their friend's wife to look for some kind of adventure to break the sheer monotony of a happy matrimony. Rare do these flings culminate into relationships and most die their natural death. Some in a painful and heartwrenching way and some end in a bitter-sweet note. The end of such relationships which originates through infidelity ceases to exist once the passion fizzles out or it dies an unnatural death due to social pressures.

Then there are these cases of one-side lovers where possessiveness takes the place of compassion fuelled by anger and jealousy. And when one fails to possess what one thinks he owns, going to an extent of harming or committing a murder seems natural to a jilted lover. Nikhil Handa's case isn't just the one that shocked us, we have heard about acid attack victims in the past who had to end up with such gruesome gestures of so-called love when they resisted unwanted attention and advances.

'When a jilted lover attacks the writing is there in the walls. They do give out certain signals. They, in fact, shout it out. One should never shrug off threats of self-harm or murder, send out by these people. When one talks of committing a grave crime know that the seed of it is already planted in the mind and the situation that he encounters will further encourage him to implement those ghastly thoughts into action. In most cases, resistance from the partner or the love interest makes them implement those actions,' says Dr Pavan Sonar, psychiatrist and sexologist, Mumbai. Here is why you should never marry someone who threatens to harm oneself in rejection.

Gone too far

But what makes us think is this: Why is it that some men deal with rejection in a matured way, walk away reinvent themselves while others resolve to kill? 'It is a personality trait, a thing or two gone wrong in inculcating self-righteousness. These people nurture morbid jealousy which is not a disorder but a syndrome that could be a sign of some sort of underlying psychiatric disorders,' says Dr Sonar. It is also a trait of people who suffer from a borderline personality disorder. Here are some other traits of people suffering from borderline personality disorder.

In fact, Michael Kingham & Harvey Gordon while writing on morbid jealousy in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 2004 had explored the possible reasons behind the same. They found out that in morbid jealousy, a person suffering from the same is preoccupied with the thoughts of the partner's sexual infidelity, a situation which is irrational and nonexistent. The most common forms of morbid jealousy are delusions, obsessions and overvalued ideas.

Here is why these components of morbid jealousy are dangerous:

Delusionary jealousy: 'This could also be a form of narcissist schizophrenia wherein a person is usually seen to be a shallow booster of his abilities, self-loving and acts selfishly too. When it comes to loving someone their idea is delusionary. Most of their love exists in fantasy. They may also indulge in erotic fantasies which their so-called love interest,' says Dr Sonar. It is these fantasies that trigger criminal activities when they realise that reality is different from fiction. In fact, Michael Kingham & Harvey Gordon's paper suggests that 'Delusions of infidelity may be the initial presentation of schizophrenia, or appear as new features within an established psychosis.' Here are few things about schizophrenia that you need to know.

Obsession: For people with morbid jealousy, obsession is a common trait. 'These people have this tremendous desire to possess. Their entire idea is to dominate, possess and control. They fail to see the other person as a separate identity. Obsessed lovers are the ones who see their love as an extension of their personalities, so much that they want to control and own the person,' informs Dr Sonar. Their brain is wired in the way it is. They fail to respect the fact that each life grows and flourishes separately and cannot be controlled by mortal beings. 'In obsessional jealousy, jealous thoughts are experienced as intrusive and excessive, and compulsive behaviours such as checking may follow,' states Michael Kingham & Harvey Gordon. This is why the obsessive lovers stalk and follow their interests everywhere meticulously.

Overvalued idea: People with morbid jealousy have a tendency to put themselves above all. They think of themselves in a very high manner without any rhyme or reason. 'These are people who expect too much from themselves and others in return. They think they have exceptional qualities than others so they deserve love, never mind if their love interest is married or engaged to someone else. They think they are more capable of possessing that person. This obsession stems out from a weakness, where they are unable to look beyond themselves, but they see it as their strength,' says Dr Sonar. 'Morbid jealousy could take the form of an 'overvalued idea' that is, an acceptable, comprehensible idea pursued by the patient beyond the bounds of reason,' states Michael Kingham & Harvey Gordon.

These kinds of lovers who suffer from morbid jealousy are not hard to find. They almost exist in every social stratum whether an Army Major or a working class individual. But they do exhibit certain traits that should make the victim alert. 'These self-proclaimed obsessed lovers usually try to woo their love interest in many ways. They will try to show the victim that there are a lot of similarities in their personalities, they will know too much about the victim either by stalking them on social media or by different means, they will try to meet up and make it feel a coincidence or force meetings, they will go out of the way and do something ridiculous to show affection,' says Dr Sonar.

But are there ways to restrict one's advances so it doesn't blow out of proportion and lead to a disaster like the Shailza Diwedi murder case. 'A woman's instincts are really strong when it comes to dealing with such situation. But often she overlooks it. In most cases, where the man kills a woman in the name of love the situation could have been averted if steps were taken early and by this we mean the signs of the psychopath behaviours were identified and right kind of help was given,' says Dr Sonar.

Probably cutting off all ties with such a person will not help as it could only fuel his destructive thoughts and make him enact the crime he has planned in his mind. 'A person who has become obsessed with love will never come out and seek psychiatric help. The traits that have pushed him to this extent are the very traits that will withhold him from seeking help delusion, obsession and overestimation of self. They want to control the situation rather than taking help to get over rejection or let go of their love interest,' says Dr Sonar.

To prevent such kind of murders and ghastly crimes in the name of love, probably a different approach is needed a collective approach of the victim and family members of the lover to guide the person to get counselled and undergo therapy if needed. But we know we are being too optimistic over here. No woman would want to be associated with creepy behaviours and help to drill sane judgements into such person's mind. It would be equally dangerous and make her vulnerable. But these lovers who kill and harm woman in the name of love need help. Of course, they need to be punished with the highest degree of punishment possible for their crimes committed.

But we can still think of a different approach, involving more people from the jilted lover's side who can help avert crimes committed in love.

The bottom line is: The love that kills is not love, the heart that bleeds in love cannot bleed blood; the love that brews hate is never going to be remembered as love. We hope people in love understand this and good sense prevails while lapping up love and facing rejection.


Kingham, M., & Gordon, H. (2004). Aspects of morbid jealousy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 10(3), 207-215.

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