KOLLAM: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the death of a 10-year-old girl at Kundara has arrested the girl’s grandfather Victor Daniel, 62, for sexually assaulting her. Kundara police also registered his arrest for the rape of another minor girl in the area, which was revealed during his interrogation. The arrest was based on the statement given by the girl’s grandmother that the girl and her mother had earlier complained that her own grandfather had sexually assaulted the girl. Victor, working as manager of a lodge in Kollam, is allegedly involved in cases of unnatural sex at the lodge. He was earlier the assistant of a prominent criminal lawyer in Kollam.
The police has questioned about 20 people including close relatives of the girl in the past four days. Earlier, the mother and elder sister of the girl refused to cooperate with the questioning. Police sought the help of psychological counsellors to approach relatives of the girl to disclose the mystery behind the death. The relatives who were insisting that they are unaware of any issues relating to the girl, changed their mind after the counsellors intervened. The police will also make the mother and grandfather of the girl to undergo a lie-detector test on Monday. The investigation team has submitted a plea in the court which has in turn sent summons to the duo to be present before the court. The 10-year-old girl was found hanging from the window of her house in Nanthirikkal in Kundara on January 15.
The autopsy report
The autopsy report dated January 16, a day after the body was found, certified by Dr K. Valsala, assistant professor in the department of forensic medicine, Thiruvananthapuram MCH, points to physical torture faced by the girl. Over 20 ante-mortem injuries were found on her body pointing to the physical assault the girl had to undergo before her death. The girl had over seven abrasions on her private parts during the time of death. She also had multiple abrasions over her thighs, areas of pubic bone, abdomen, legs and knees. The body also sustained hypopigmented skin lesions on left knee, front of middle of right leg, outer and front aspects of the leg at its lower third, elbows, and forearm.
The detailed report on abrasions on private parts points to the fact that the girl had undergone sexual assault. The doctor who conducted the autopsy stated that the girl underwent unnatural sexual assault three days before her death. The 10-year-old girl was found hanging from the window of her house and was in a sitting posture with her legs laid flat on the floor. A red synthetic shawl with interlocked ends was found tied around the neck by a slip knot. This posture of the body, which is normally not seen in case of suicides, confirmed suspicion that the girl was murdered and did not hang herself.
A report from the forensic lab in Thiruvananthapuram has confirmed that a suicide note recovered from near her body was written by the girl herself before her death. The suicide note stated that she committed suicide as she “lacked peace” at her home. She had also mentioned that nobody was responsible for her death. The police which failed to act on the issue for the last two months, confessed that they did not realise the gravity of the incident and missed out on inquiring into the mystery behind her death. The police had earlier filed a case for unnatural death as part of a routine procedure. A special investigation team was constituted for inquiry under Kollam rural SP S. Surendran to reinstate the investigations.
Kundara circle inspector R. Shabu and SI Rajeesh Kumar were suspended for dereliction of duty by an order issued by South Zone IG Manoj Abraham. The failure in discussing the case at the monthly crime conference held in the presence of DGP was observed as a major setback by the police. The girl’s father had been complaining to police officers to investigate the death of his daughter for the last two months. He had with him the copy of the autopsy report which was allegedly neglected by the police. The Human Rights Commission took a suo motu case on the incident and sought reports from the South Zone IG for the negligence by the police in taking appropriate action. The commission has also asked the DMO and the child welfare council to submit a report within three months.
The inquiry into the death took a new turn with the police questioning her close relatives. The police had taken some nine persons including the mother and grandfather of the child along with their neighbours into custody for questioning at the East Kallada police station. The mother of the girl, had apparently remained silent on the issue without cooperating with the police that had already got clear indications of the culprit. The police waited to substantiate its doubt with the backing of a strong statement by the relatives of the child. This materialised when her grandmother gave a statement that the child and her mother had informed her about the immoral approach of the girl’s grandfather.
A few years back, the girl’s mother had filed a complaint with the police that her husband had sexually molested her daughter. The police has now decided to submit a plea before the court to stop the trial of the girl’s father in the case. The police is now suspecting the authenticity of the case which was apparently filed by the woman to substantiate her argument of separating from her husband. The couple were living separately for the last several months. The girl had not revealed the assault on her to her schoolmates or her teachers which could have helped in preventing her death with the intervention of child welfare workers. The grandmother has also stated that the grandfather was scolded for his immoral approach towards his granddaughter, but in vein. The police is also investigating into chances of legal advice the culprit received as he was an assistant to a lawyer for several years.