India’s ‘Miss Marple’ snooping on election candidates | Daily News

India’s ‘Miss Marple’ snooping on election candidates

Detectives like Rajani Pandit are in high demand.
Detectives like Rajani Pandit are in high demand.

INDIA: As India’s best-known female private eye, Rajani Pandit has posed as crazy, blind and deaf to solve murders and unmask unsuitable fiancés. But election time is boom time for the woman dubbed “Miss Marple”.

In the world’s biggest election ending on Sunday, Pandit and others like her are in high demand from political parties to dig up dirt on the opposition and make sure their own candidates are squeaky clean.

“It’s confidential but whenever a party finds one of its own candidates or an opposition candidate suspicious they ask us to investigate them,” Mumbai-based Pandit told AFP.

“Often we are asked to look into their finances and how they have procured money to fund their campaigns. We try to maintain a low profile,” the 57-year-old added.

The BJP’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is up against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the world’s largest democratic exercise, which is awash with cash. Some experts say the polls could cost $10 billion.

Pandit says her team has been busy “integrating” themselves into political parties since January, inspecting finances and attending rallies before submitting reports to their clients. “There’s usually a surge of cases ahead of the elections. We’ve been inundated with requests and were only able to take on a few,” she said.

Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman of India’s Association of Private Detectives and Investigators, said “there’s a lot of due diligence”.

“(A candidate’s) local reputation, influence, his stance in his own caste... all these things are looked into,” Singh told AFP.

Private detective agencies are popular in India, with sleuths tasked with solving everything from petty household thefts to business deals gone wrong.

Pandit has been conducting covert operations across India for over 30 years out of her small office in the Asian giant’s financial capital. The investigator -- who does own a magnifying glass -- was dubbed India’s first female private detective by media outlets when she began cracking cases in the early 1980s.

She has been featured in countless newspaper articles, often referred to as India’s “Miss Marple” or “Nancy Drew”, Agatha Christie’s fictional spinster sleuth and the ever-evolving US amateur detective.

This has encouraged scores of women in male-dominated India to follow in her footsteps. Her most difficult case was when she worked undercover for six months as a maid for a woman who was suspected of poisoning her husband to death and then killing her son through a hitman. She gathered evidence and handed it over to police who arrested the hitman and the woman.


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