St-Paul Massacre: First indications point to an international sect

Friday afternoon: the police go to the Mawooas’ home in St Paul to look for Rajesh Dhayam. A few minutes later, they break their way into the locked house where they find ten bodies. The enquiry points to links with an international sect.

After being taken out of the house, the ten bodies were subject to autopsy. Cyanide was found in all of them.


Some foreign-language reports indicate that police found medallions engraved with the letters ‘EK’ on two of the bodies, leading police to speculate that there may be a connection to the movement known as ‘Eckankar.’

The discovery of ten bodies in a state of decomposition in a house at Béchard Lane Saint Paul is surely a heavy blow for the whole country. After three days of enquiry, the investigators have concluded that an “international sect” could be at the origin of the collective suicide. The police are now looking for clues in the past of Critika Mawooa, who seems to be responsible for this massacre. People having contact with the woman say she had a ‘mystical’ side.

Several clues brought the police to investigate further into the habits of this 37 year-old woman, the first being the fourteen-page suicide note found near her body. The letter, which has not been authenticated yet, states how unfortunate she was and how miserable her whole life was. It was because of her sentimental and financial problems that she decided to put an end to her life. So did the nine other persons found in the padlocked house of their own free will, according to the letter. Cyanide was found in all the bodies.

The bodies may have remained there for some days before being found by the police. The neighbourhood did not really wonder about their absence as the Mawooas have always been very “discreet people.” The rest of the family were not worried either since they were told that the group was going to Rodrigues.

This macabre affair started on Friday afternoon. The members of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of Quatre-Bornes went to the Mawooa’s house to look for Rajesh Dhayam, Critika’s lover. This administrative assistant at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute had been reported missing since 6th August. The police went to Béchard Lane after finding Critika’s picture in his house.

As soon as they arrived at the house, they found padlocks on the doors. They had to break them to discover the ten bodies spread out in the house. Four other members of the Mawooa family were found dead in the house; Critika’s brother, Ravi (36), her sister, Chinta (30), their mother, Coontee (69), and her son, Devesh Nunkumar (11). Rajesh Dhayam’s body was also found in the house. Hervé Janvier, a tramp aged around 50, was also found among the dead bodies.

Maya Jhowry and her two children, Khesha (17) and Bhavesh (15) were found dead in the house as well. Maya had left her marital home on 22nd July after making a statement at the police station of Long Mountain stating that her marriage with Suchit Jhowry was not going well.

However, according to people around them, Critika had a strong influence on Maya. They had met at the Victoria Hotel where they used to work together as beauticians. Maya was a strong believer and practising member of a branch of Hare Rama Hare Krishna. But one of her relatives admits, “Overnight Maya suddenly abandoned all her habits to follow the precepts of her new guide, Critika.” On Critika’s side, people say that she has always been involved in strange religious rites.

Maya is also said to have vouched for the Mawooa family. According to one of her relatives, she took a certain number of loans for Critika and paid them back. In August 2003, Maya is said to have enrolled Critika and her sister and brother as shareholders of a credit union in Long Mountain. They vouched for each other and finally succeeded in obtaining a total loan of Rs 76,000.

The few details the investigators have on this massacre indicate that it is the result of Critika, a desperate woman gnawed at by her problems since her childhood, being caught up in the precepts of an international sect. Likewise, everything points to the fact that the other people were caught up in this suicidal fever.

The letter, the traces of cyanide… Everyone seemed to be ready for death at Béchard Lane.

However, there is still mystery around these deaths at St Paul. Although the police are seriously investigation the theory of the international sect, they are not neglecting any clues such as the fact that the doors were all closed from the outside when they arrived on the premises.

The police will thus continue their enquiry on the cause of this dramatic event. Unfortunately, the victims may have taken their secrets – and the real cause of all this – to their graves…

“The few details the investigators have on this massacre indicate that it is the result of Critika, a desperate woman gnawed at by her problems, being caught up in the precepts of an international sect.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
L'Express, Mauritius
Aug. 30,2004
Pauline Etienne

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday August 31, 2004.
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