Gender

Kerala Rape and Murder: Maneka Gandhi Says Crime Spot Was “Deliberately Compromised”

She said that the NCW report mentioned that “Even after the victim had complained to the police about a neighbour who threatened her with rape, the police didn’t care to act.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. Credit: PTI.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. Credit: PTI.

New Delhi: Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi today accused the Kerala Police of “deliberately” avoiding the due process of investigation in the April 28 brutal rape and murder of the Dalit woman in the state’s Ernakulum district.

The case, which came to the notice of the national media on May 4– four days after she was murdered at her Perumbavoor house – led to a widespread outrage followed by a slew of protests in the state and outside.

Speaking to media persons at the Indian Women’s Press Corp in New Delhi, Gandhi spoke in response to a question on the report of a fact-finding team of the National Commission for Women (NCW) which was submitted to the ministry recently.

“We sent an NCW team to the state the day the news came out (on May 4). This was a Scheduled Caste girl from a very poor background, who lived with her sister and mother in a hut. This instance is not unique to Kerala but to many other states. A family which has only women members often face a lot of problems even from their neighbours, than (those) with men,” the minister said.

She said that the NCW report mentioned that “Even after the victim had complained to the police about a neighbour who threatened her with rape, the police didn’t care to act. It considered it as a case of eve teasing instead.” Reading out from the report, she said, “The family also lodged a police complaint against a brother-in-law of the local sarpanch who belongs to the (ruling) Left Front.”

“He is obviously politically influential, so even now he has not been picked up by the police,” she added.

As per the report, “The mother of the victim mentioned these police complaints to the NCW team which was corroborated by her sister in a separate meeting.” The report also talked of the crime spot “deliberately compromised” by the police by “not sealing it for nearly 10 days after the incident (till May 8)”.  It said only a group of post graduate doctoral students visited the crime spot and conducted the post mortem. “No RDO (Revenue Divisional Officer) was present at the site of enquiry as mandated by CRPC (Code of Criminal Procedure). No videography of the post mortem was conducted,” the minister added.

“That the Chief Investigating Officer Anil Kumar was suddenly removed from the post raises suspicion. The new investigating officer (A B Jijimon) didn’t appear before the fact-finding team. The reason given (to the team) was that elections are on in the State,” she told the reporters.

The report also noted, “We are of the view that the Kerala Police is functioning under undue influence of the State Government”. It said the NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam conveyed the view of the fact-finding team to the Election Commission and also reported it “in a letter dated May 10 to the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

On May 14, an independent fact-finding team of Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) sought “a probe by the Central Investigation Bureau” into the gruesome murder. The report, presented at a media meet in New Delhi, also accused the local police of trying to “mislead and misguide” the people initially and alleged “several lapses” in the investigation. Supreme Court advocate and convener of GIA, Monika Arora, said copies of the report would be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs, NCW, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.