Three men were detained on Tuesday for the brutal rape-murder of a 29-year-old Dalit law student in a small town near Kerala’s Kochi last week, a crime that drew comparisons with the Delhi 2012 gang rape.
Police said two of the detained suspects are neighbours of the woman, who was alone at home and found in a pool of blood by her mother when she returned from work around 8pm on April 28.
“We have some leads in the case,” additional DGP K Padmakumar said.
The autopsy revealed she was savagely assaulted with sharp-edged weapons after being raped. The body bore at least 30 cut wounds, her abdomen was slashed and intestines were ripped apart.
The traumatised mother is bedridden in a hospital. “We had complained to police about the danger to our lives. The tragedy could have been averted had they taken timely action,” she said.
It could not be ascertained what dangers the family faced. One of the neighbours is said to be a drug addict, a fact that gives wind to speculation that only psychopaths or people abusing narcotics could have committed such a barbaric act.
The heinous crime at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district has shaken poll-bound state.
“Kerala is shocked by the brutal murder of a young woman. The culprits will be brought to book and the severest punishment will be ensured to them,” chief minister Oommen Chandy said in Kannur, northern Kerala.
Opposition Left Front workers blocked home minister Ramesh Chennithala’s convoy when he reached the Perumbavur hospital to meet the woman’s mother on Tuesday. They shouted slogans against the Congress-led government for rising crimes against women.
The CPI(M) accused the government of inaction. “Police have failed to get any leads about the culprits even five days after the incident,” party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said.
But home minister Chennithala, who went to the victim’s home as well, dismissed the charge. He said police were conducting a “scientific” probe and a manhunt was on to nab the assailants.
Women’s rights groups and students took to the streets, demanding justice. People started a campaign on social media to put pressure on the state authorities.
Many campaigners blamed the authorities for neglecting the case because of the assembly elections, due in two weeks.
The spontaneous and concerted campaign bore a resemblance to a similar movement after a paramedical student was raped and murdered on a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. That incident forced the Centre to fortify laws against rape with harsher punishment.