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 him along with two accomplices, namely Eldin and Shivaji, were sentenced to death on May 31, 1991.


Shankar was born on January 21, 1954, in Kangeyanallur, which lies in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu. As per his narration, he took habits like smoking and taking drugs during his school days itself. 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 Shankar's photo emerged into 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 by one of his neighbours, he saw him as a nice and helping man for the last 4 years. He was well respected in his locality. Shankar's life can be introspective by viewing it in 2 phases. One before 1974 when he was Gowri Shankar and after 1974 when he became the criminal Auto Shankar. Shankar arrived in Madras in 1974. There he got into a quarrel with a small shopkeeper when the same refused to give credit for the rice to feed his hungry family.

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

The grocer out of fear didn't go for police again, and this is where 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. Shankar was the son of his second wife.

Also Read: Ravinder Kumar: A Story of Child Rapist and Killer who Indulged in Necrophilia with the Bodies

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


Shankar lived in Periyar Nagar in Thiruvannmiyur which is located in the outskirts of Madras 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 in full control of the city police. Between Thiruvanmiyur and Mahabalipuram lied narrow, pot-holed and meandered roads where small villages were established alongside them.

The way also encountered a large number of palm trees lying along the scenic coast. These hamlets were heaven for the distillation of illegal liquor, and the palm trees were utilized for toddy brewing. 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 in LB road. His business soon prospered and his client base expanded to some higher-level policemen as well as politicians. Shankar was a regular visitor to Pals cabaret lying near Devi cinema complex on Mount Road. It was there itself he saw Lalitha, a performer for which he fell for 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 Shankar fell for eloped with Shankar's friend Sudailaimuthu. Raged with this, 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, 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 Shankar was caught with his crimes, he had already built his own house in Periyar Nagar. Besides that, his house warming ceremony was attended by many policemen and politicians who were also part of his client base.

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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