On the cold morning of November 19, 2013, Union Bank manager Jyothi Uday was in a tearing hurry. She was on the 6.30am shift and had rushed into the nearby Corporation Bank ATM kiosk to withdraw money – it was her daughter’s birthday and there were celebrations planned in the evening. Since the booth at Corporation Circle was in the same lane as Jyothi’s bank branch, she wanted to withdraw the cash before her shift began.
As soon as she entered the ATM kiosk, a sturdy man barged in and pulled the shutters down. He demanded money from Jyothi and threatened to kill her. When she protested, he pushed her to the wall, pulled out a machete from his bag and attacked her, hitting repeatedly on her head. She fell unconscious and the attacker fled with Jyothi’s wallet containing some money, bank cards and her phone. The gory CCTV camera grabs aired by television channels all through the day shook the city and exposed the vulnerability of ATM kiosks to such attacks.
After multiple operations on the head and months of hospitalisation, Jyothi was back on her feet. The investigation into the case, which hit a dead end after three years, came back to life in 2017 when a murder case was registered in Andhra Pradesh and the attacker confessed the Bengaluru crime. He was subsequently arrested and identified as Madhukar Reddy, whom Jyothi was quick to pick out.
"I had seen him for about five minutes when he attacked me. I can never forget that face. When I saw him in the identification parade, I could immediately spot him despite different positions. He was the man," said Jyothi, a day after Reddy was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by the city civil and sessions court.
On Tuesday evening, the court delivered its verdict in what it called a "spine chilling, brutal attack" case. Following this incident, security was provided to every ATM booth in the city along with installation of security cameras. Subsequently, several police teams were formed to nab the accused but the case hit a dead end. However, after a man was picked up for a murder-for-gain crime in Madanapalli, during interrogation he confessed to the Bengaluru ATM case. The dots and lines were joined and Jyothi’s case which was closed under a C-report was reopened. A charge sheet was filed, the trial began and reached its logical conclusion on Tuesday.
"This incident was blown out of proportions by the media then. I feel the accused may have escaped from the city due to this. The police did a good job by cracking the case and the court has delivered an excellent judgement. I have forgotten the incident and don’t want to look back. I was treated by a great team of doctors at BGS hospital under Dr Venkataramana’s leadership. My bank supported me financially with hospital bills. I would call this incident my fate and would never want to relive that day. I am a very strong person and fought through this," said 51- year-old Jyothi, sitting in her manager’s chair at Union Bank, JC Road branch.
This verdict is also a victory for the-then Ulsoor Gate assistant commissioner of police CE Thimmaiah who filed the charge sheet. Thimmaiah, now with the CID, recalls building the case files. "This case was closed without any evidence. When we got some information from Madanapalli police about the accused, we knew that we could crack the case. He was taken into our custody and the victim identified him immediately. Madhukar Reddy was an elusive man who was always on his toes and moving. This was a reason why he was not caught despite committing heinous crimes. We sent the samples to FSL, went into the DVR of the CCTV and completed all the required processes to finalise the charge sheet against Reddy.’’
On the sunny Wednesday morning, when Jyothi walked into the bank, her casual demeanour, a slight limp notwithstanding, displayed how this middle-aged lady fought for her life and lived through a horror.