Nimisha Priya is an Indian nurse who made headlines in 2013 when was sentenced to death for murdering Talal Abdo Mahdi, a Yemeni national, by injecting him with a sedative and chopping the body into more than 10 pieces.
Nimisha Priya was born on Sunday, 1 January 1989 (age 34 years; as of 2023) in Thekkinchira, Kollengode, Palakkad, Kerala, India. Her zodiac sign is Capricorn. After completing her formal education and practising as a nurse in India for a few months, she moved to Yemen.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
She belongs to a middle-class family.
Parents & Siblings
Her mother’s name is Premakumari who works as a household help in Ernakulam, Kerala. She is the only child of her parents.
Husband & Children
Her husband’s name is Tomy Thomas, an autorickshaw driver, who lives with their 9-year-old daughter, Michelle Tomy Thomas, in Idukki, Kerala. Tomy used to work in Qatar as a driver, and after their marriage, he moved to Yemen and started working at a petrol pump.
She follows Christianity.
She is an Indian citizen.
She has Malayali roots.
Initial Years in Yemen
As per one source, Nimisha moved to Yemen from Kerala in 2011, and as per another source, Nimisha shifted from Kerala to Yemen in 2012. After her marriage to Tomy Thomas, Nimisha continued working as a nurse in Yemen while Thomas moved to Yemen from Qatar and started working as an unskilled labourer at a petrol pump. After the birth of their daughter, Thomas quit his job to look after the daughter while Nimisha continued her job. In April 2014, as they were struggling to make ends meet, Thomas moved to Kerala, India with their daughter while Nimisha stayed in Yemen.
Opening own clinic
In 2015, they decided to open a small clinic; however, they needed the reference of a Yemeni citizen to process the licence for the clinic. Nimisha suggested the name of Talal Abdo Mahdi who ran a clothing shop. Tomy Thomas said that he once met Mahdi when he was living in Yemen and Mahdi looked like a good person to him. Reportedly, Nimisha first met Mahdi when he came to her previous clinic for the checkup of his pregnant wife. When Nimisha discussed her idea with Abdul Lateer, the owner of the clinic where she was working, he got upset with her; however, he later agreed to invest 33% in Nimisha’s clinic following which Nimisha told Mahdi that she did need any of his help. Mahdi later helped her with building materials for her clinic and a small amount of money as well. In January 2015, when Nimisha came to Kerala for one month, Mahdi also came to Kerala with her where he visited Thomas’ home in Thodupuzha and many other tourist places. A civil war broke out in 2015 in Yemen due to which Tomy Thomas and their daughter could not return to Yemen.
Harassment by Talal Abdo Mahdi
When Talal Abdo Mahdi got to know that Nimisha Priya was alone in Yemen and her husband could not return, he started harassing her. He barged into her clinic multiple times and forcibly took money from the clinic’s earnings by lying to the staff that Nimisha was his wife. Allegedly, during his visit to India, Mahdi took a photo of her wedding which he morphed into a fake wedding picture of him and Nimisha which he showed to his family and told many of his known people including the clinic staff that he married Nimisha in India.
While Nimisha was unaware of this, when one of the clinic staff told her about it, she was shocked and approached Mahdi’s father who did not pay attention to her complaints. In 2016, she filed a complaint at a police station in Sana’a but instead of resolving the issue, she was jailed for 16 days as per Yemeni laws. She got out of jail only when Mahdi produced a fake marriage certificate in court. Nimisha claimed that Mahdi continued harassing her in different ways and even confiscated her passport and said,
He confiscated my passport, he forced me to live with him. He would come to my house inebriated and attack me physically, threaten me to obey him, inflict injuries on me. He used to even bring his friends to my house at night, force me to do sexual favours for them. I used to run out each time to protect myself. Those were sleepless nights for me, I had no one to help or support me. I was all alone. Yemen is not a place where one would see women out at night. But I would run through the road out of my house, escaping from the assaults.”
Tomy Thomas said in an interview that while Nimisha was fluent in Arabic, she could not read the language. When the documents were being made, Mahdi allegedly got 67% shares of the clinic written in his name, with 33% of the shares in the name of Abdul Lateer. Mahdi also got other types of equipment and vehicles of the clinic registered under his name. Thomas alleged that Nimisha had used around 22 sim cards to contact him as whenever Mahdi confiscated a sim card, she managed to obtain another sim card. Mahdi also had many other police cases filed against him related to land fraud, vehicle fraud, and money fraud.
Death of Talal Abdo Mahdi
Nimisha claimed in an interview that Mahdi was frequently jailed at a nearby jail whose warden knew Nimisha. The jail warden suggested Nimisha that she could sedate Mahdi in order to obtain her passport from him so that she could return to India. When Nimisha got a chance, she injected Mahdi with a sedative; however, it did not have any effect on him as he was an alleged drug addict.
On 25 July 2017, when Mahdi was taking drugs at her home, she injected him with Ketamine. Mahdi fell on the ground after a few minutes and screamed before passing away at the age of 24 years. Nimisha hurriedly called Hanan, a fellow Yemeni nurse who lived below her house in Al Deydh and explained the situation to her. Hanan knew about the harassment that Nimisha was suffering at the hands of Mahdi, and they decided to cut his body into pieces and dispose of them in a nearby water tank. Nimisha allegedly suffered an anxiety attack after seeing this and took tablets while Hanan cut Mahdi’s body into pieces. After a few days, some people complained of a foul smell coming out of the water tank following which police discovered Mahdi’s body pieces and arrested Nimisha and Hanan in August 2017. The New Indian Express
Death Penalty & Rescue Efforts
After her arrest, Nimisha was given the death penalty by a local court in August 2020 while Hanan was sentenced to life imprisonment. On 7 March 2022, her death sentence was upheld by an appeal court; however, the court offered a lifeline by saying that the death sentence could be avoided if Mahdi’s family pardoned her as under Islamic law, the death penalty can be waived if the victim’s family pardons the convict, and this can involve payment of blood money (compensation paid to the victim’s family). Nimisha wrote a letter in Malayalam which read,
I did not commit murder. For making our lives better, with my husband’s permission, I took a certain path. But I fell into the trap of certain people I trusted and ended up in a tragic situation.”
In 2020, a forum named Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council was established to help her. A Delhi-based lawyer, Subhash Chandran K.R. filed a case in the Delhi High Court to help Nimisha following which a seven-member delegation was formed to meet Mahdi’s family to negotiate the payment of blood money. The delegation included Premakumari and Priya’s daughter, Michelle Tomy Thomas, Subhash Chandran K.R. and Deepa Joseph, another Delhi-based lawyer who is the vice president of the action council, Babu John, the convenor of the council, Rafeek Ravuther of the Centre for Indian Migrant Studies, and Nizar Kochery, an Indian lawyer based in Doha; however, they could not travel to Yemen to visa issues. Yemen-based activist Samuel Jerome, the first person Priya reached out to for help when she was arrested in 2017, said that Mahdi’s family did not show any signs of animosity when he met them in court during the hearings. It was reported in April 2022 that Mahdi’s family agreed on a compensation (blood money) of 50 million Yemeni rials (approx. Rs 1.5 crores). The New Indian Express
On 13 November 2023, the Supreme Court of Yemen rejected Nimisha’s appeal against the death sentence following which many people claimed that Nimisha was not given adequate legal aid during her case. Reportedly, after the rejection of her mercy appeal, the decision to pardon Nimisha lies with the President of Yemen. On 17 November 2023, Communist Party of India (CPI) Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam wrote a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take notice of the case and help Nimisha Priya. Asian News International