For the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, the timing of the brutal rape and murder of a young law student in poll-bound state could not have been worse. Political parties are using the incident, which has been compared to the 2012 Delhi gangrape, to attack the ruling combine.
The 29-year-old’s body was found by her mother in their one-room house on April 28. Autopsy reports confirm she had 38 big and small wounds on her body and her intestines had been pulled out using a sharp-edged weapon. The gruesome details emerged four days after the incident triggering an outrage across the country. Though the police rounded up three men for questioning on Wednesday and released a suspect’s sketch, no arrests have been made.
The state’s law and order machinery has failed, a BJP delegation told the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in Delhi a day after the issue echoed in the Rajya Sabha where members demanded ‘exemplary punishment’ for the culprits. On Thursday itself, three leaders — Union social justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, SC/ST commission chairman RL Punia and National Women’s Commission chairperson Lalitha Kumaramagalam — met the traumatized mother admitted in a hospital in Perumbavoor near Kochi. As others make a beeline to meet the aggrieved woman, there is strong speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will begin a tour of the state on Friday, will also call on her.
In fact, such has been the rush that the superintendent of Perumbavoor government hospital had to issue a statement for VIPs to restrict their visits. The Ernakulam district collector, Raja Manickam — who opened a joint bank account with the victim’s mother to help her build a house — used Facebook and requested visitors to not use the incident as a photo opportunity.
But the well-intentioned pleas fall far from the political arena where parties are using the crime to slam the government for its failure to nab culprits even after a week.
The Left Democratic Front has announced a series of protest marches and rallies across the state till the assailants are booked.
“The Congress-led UDF is not giving protection to vulnerable women in society; criminals are thriving under the present government,” said CPI(M) senior leader Pinarayi Vijayan blaming the police for not taking action against those who threatened the family earlier.
The Congress, on the other hand, is making impassioned requests to not politicize the incident and divert the attention from the crime. “The murder has shocked the entire nation. Police officials are probing the case with all seriousness required,” said Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy who announced solatium of `10 lakh for the mother and promised a job for the elder daughter.