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Auto Shankar Alias Gowri Shankar - Criminal "If he were alive today, he would have been a minister"

Auto Shankar Alias Gowri Shankar - Criminal "If he were alive today, he would have been a minister"

Gauri Shankar, also known by his nickname Auto Shankar, was an auto driver who was charged with 6 brutal murders and was given the death penalty in 1995 at the age of 41. He was found guilty of the crimes he committed for 2 years, from 1988 to 1989.

His trials were conducted in Chennai's Chengalpattu court session, and he and two accomplices, Eldin and Shivaji, were sentenced to death on May 31, 1991.


Auto Shankar was born on January 21, 1954, in Kangeyanallur, in the Vellore district in Tamil Nadu. As per his narration, he took habits like smoking and taking drugs during his school days. An auto driver. A dreaded murderer. A conspirator. Womanizer.

Hoocher, along with a doting husband and father and a nice guy-next-door, are some adjectives that can be attributed to him. On a beautiful summer day in Madras in 1988, when Auto Shankar's photo emerged in the newspaper as a ruthless murderer, the initial reaction of the public was of fear and rage, and shock and surprise, especially in Periyar Nagar, where Shankar lived.

As told one of his neighbors, he saw him as a friend and helping man for the last 4 years. He was well respected in his locality. Auto Shankar's life can be introspective by viewing it in 2 phases—one before 1974 when he was Gowri Shankar and one after 1974 when he became the criminal Auto Shankar. Auto Shankar arrived in Madras in 1974. There he quarried with a small shopkeeper when he refused to give credit for the rice to feed his hungry family.

Not only did he decline, but he thrashed Auto Shankar with a policeman he called. After being beaten up and humiliated by the policeman, Auto Auto Shankar decided to take revenge by bashing up the grocer in return and ransacking his shop.

The grocer, out of fear, didn't go for the police again, and this is where Auto Shankar saw his potential and got the courage to do what he did later. In his childhood, as narrated by him, he witnessed tragic incidents like his father eloping with a woman with the whole wealth his family had, despite having two wives. Auto Shankar was the son of his second wife.

And then, her mother eloped with a person whom she worked for. These incidents were brought in front of him to gain some sympathy when the noose around his neck was not given any worth as they didn't justify his inhumane murders.


Auto Shankar lived in Periyar Nagar in Thiruvannmiyur, located on Madras's outskirts at that time. His criminal regime belongs to the time when mobile phones could be thought of only in some science fiction movies. Thirivanmiyur, at that time, was a haven for smuggling, prostitution, and murder.

The place was seen as a remote suburban area and was not entirely controlled by the city police. Between Thiruvanmiyur and Mahabalipuram lay narrow, pot-holed and meandered roads where small villages were established alongside them.

The way also encountered many palm trees lying along the scenic coast. These hamlets were heaven for distilling illegal liquor, and the palm trees were utilized for toddy brewing. Auto Shankar was first into the illicit transportation of these liquors to the inside city of Madras, where his auto-rickshaw was used. He later got introduced to prostitution, which thrived at that time in Mahabalipuram. He made his involvement and used his auto to ferry women between the city and the coastal town.

Shortly after a while, he started his own business to become a pimp. He ran his brothels in the Thiruvanmiyur area, one from a house in Periyar Nagar and another from a lodge on LB road. His business soon prospered, and his client base expanded to some higher-level policemen and politicians. Auto Shankar regularly visited Pals cabaret near the Devi cinema complex on Mount Road. There, he saw Lalitha, a performer for which he fell and who later became one of the victims of his heinous murder sequence. But this also became the reason for getting him behind bars, ending his reign, and finally into his death penalty.

Lathitha, whom Auto Shankar fell for, eloped with Auto Shankar's friend Sudailaimuthu. Raged with this, Auto Shankar fetched and murdered them. Lalitha's corpse was buried under a plot in Periyar Nagar, which was later found by the police. He incinerated Sudalaimuthu and threw his ashes into the Bay of Bengal, the same he did to the 9 other girls.

They were abducted by him, to which he later confessed. It was this mysterious missing of nine women only who woke up the police of that time to look for some conspirator behind this.


By the time Auto Shankar was caught with his crimes, he had already built his own house in Periyar Nagar. Besides that, many policemen and politicians who were also part of his client base attended his housewarming ceremony.

He also made a video recording for this entire event. Lastly, though this is a sad reality, a senior journalist by the name of Babu Jayakumar on this adds the following words, "If he were alive today, he would have been a minister."

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