Thudiyalur victim was sexually assaulted: police
The seven-year-old girl, who was found dead near her house in a suburb in Coimbatore on Tuesday, was sexually assaulted before she was murdered, said the police citing the autopsy findings on Wednesday.
While the police on Wednesday picked up five suspects in connection with the case, protests were held seeking immediate arrest of the perpetrators in the morning.
Ligature strangulation and smothering were mentioned as the cause of death in the certificate issued by the Forensic Sciences Department of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital to the Government-run free hearse service for the release of the body. Based on the autopsy findings, the police have altered the case, which it had registered when the girl was reported missing on Monday evening. K. Periaiah, Inspector General of Police (West Zone), said the case was altered on Wednesday to 376 A (Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim) of the Indian Penal Code read with 5 (l) (Whoever commits penetrative sexual assault on the child more than once or repeatedly), 5 (m) (Whoever commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below twelve years) and 6 (Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The girl’s parents on Wednesday petitioned District Collector K. Rajamani and Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore District (Rural), R. Pandiarajan demanding the arrest of those behind the crime. Mr. Rajamani told the media that the investigation by the police was on the right track.
The parents told the media they suspected five persons behind the heinous act, of which one person from the neighborhood was taken into custody late on Tuesday.
According to the mother of the child, the victim and her four-year-old sister had gone to a nearby shop around 4 p.m. on Monday and returned home. Later the duo had gone out to play. Around 5.30 p.m., the youngest daughter told the mother that her sister was missing.
The family searched for the girl in the neighborhood before lodging a complaint with the Thudiyalur police around 8 p.m.
Though the police and neighbors searched for the girl throughout the night, she was not found. A woman neighbour found the girl’s body near the house of one of the suspects on Tuesday morning.
The parents said that the main suspect, a neighbor, was among the group of people who searched for their daughter on Monday night.
On Wednesday morning, the public staged a road blockade at Thudiyalur demanding the arrest of the accused. The relatives and neighbors of the girl initially refused to accept the body demanding the arrested of the accused. They accepted the body around 1.15 p.m. after the police showed the parents the video of suspects in their custody.
All India Democratic Women's Association wanted special units to be formed in all police stations to handle missing cases of children.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said action should be taken against the accused under the POCSO Act.
The Pollachi sexual abuse issue and now the alleged sexual assault on a minor girl in the same district have created fear among the people, said K. Balakrishnan, State secretary of the party.
A. Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organization, charged that the autopsy was not done by a panel of surgeons and the procedure was not videographed for further submission to the National Human Rights Commission.
Citing Pollachi Sexual abuse case and Thudiyalur incident, he wanted the Western Zone to be announced as “atrocities-hit area” and a woman IPS officer appointed to investigate the case.