India: Police Make First Arrest in Rape, Killing of Dalit Woman

Vasudevan Sridharan
Bengaluru, India
2016-06-17
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160617-IN-rape-arrest-620.jpg Activists shout slogans as they are confronted by police during a protest outside Kerala House in New Delhi following the rape and killing of a student in the southern Indian state of Kerala, May 4, 2016.
AFP

A day after police in south India’s Kerala state claimed a major breakthrough with the arrest of a migrant laborer in the brutal rape and killing of a lower-caste woman on April 28, a court on Friday sent the accused to 14 days’ judicial custody.

A Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Kerala police arrested Ameerul Islam late Thursday, two days after taking him into custody for questioning and ending a nationwide manhunt that lasted nearly 50 days.

Police said Islam, 23, a native of northeast India’s Assam state who was picked up in the neighboring Tamil Nadu state, confessed to killing the 30-year-old Dalit law student who was found dead by her mother at their home in Kerala’s Perumbavoor town.

Reacting to news of the arrest, the victim’s mother, Rajeshwari, said Islam should be hanged.

“He should be dealt with in the manner in which he assaulted my daughter, and after that he should be hanged to death. Not a single woman in the country should ever be made to undergo what my daughter underwent,” Rajeshwari told Indo-Asian News Service.

The historically marginalized Dalit community, which forms the lowest rung of the Hindu caste hierarchy, continues to be subject to violent attacks in India.

The badly mutilated body of the woman, whose name is being withheld as it is illegal to name victims of sexual crimes in India, bore 38 injury marks including less than 10 stab wounds and her intestines had been gutted, according to the post mortem report.

The incident triggered outrage across India for its stark resemblance to the infamous gang-rape and killing of a paramedical student on a moving bus in Delhi in 2012.

“The accused was working as a daily laborer in Perumbavoor for about seven months, and lived 200 meters from the victim’s house. On April 28, he had an altercation with the victim, following which he raped and murdered her under the influence of alcohol and then fled the state,” a police official who was not authorized to talk to the media told BenarNews on condition of anonymity.

Suspect kept moving

The official said nabbing Islam was not an easy task.

“We analyzed as many as 2.5 million phone calls during our search for the suspect. We were tracking all phone calls made in the region in the last five days running up to the crime,” he said.

P.N. Unnirajan, the district’s superintendent of police, said the suspect did not stay in one place.

“The accused boarded a train to Assam the next morning. From there, he moved to West Bengal and then to Tamil Nadu, all the while monitoring the developments (in Kerala),” Unnirajan told The Hindu.

“It was [because of] an extensive probe that the accused was tracked down and finally taken into custody,” Additional Director General of Police B. Sandhya told reporters, adding that the police are collecting more evidence to strengthen the case against Islam.

Sandhya said the DNA samples from the victim’s nail clippings and saliva matched the suspect’s.

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