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VIPs visit murdered Dalit woman's mother, probe continues

By Ians English

Perumbavoor (Kerala), May 5: A stream of high-profile people are visiting a hospital here in Ernakulam district to meet the mother of a poor Dalit woman whose brutal murder has shocked not just Kerala but the rest of the country.

Jisha, a 27-year-old law student, was found murdered on April 28 near a canal here by her labourer-mother.


The body was badly mutilated. There were injuries on her private parts, leading the police to believe that the victim might have been sexually assaulted.

With assembly elections scheduled this month, the murder has become a reason for political point scoring and heightened media coverage.

A long list of VIP visitors, including politicians and film stars, have been visiting Kuruppampady taluk hospital where the victim's mother Rajeshwari has been admitted since receiving the shock of the murder.

Expected to visit her shortly are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

Modi, according to state BJP leaders, is likely to call on Rajeshwari either on May 8 or 11, when he has election campaign programmes scheduled in Kerala.

Gandhi is arriving in the state next week and will also be visiting the victim's mother.

Other important visitors that are expected include Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot and National Women's Commission chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam.

The intensive noise and tension of politics and media coverage are not lost on all.

The hospital authorities have complained that the unending stream of visitors has caused more emotional disturbance to the mother of Jisha than if she had been left alone.

"She has been with us since last Thursday. With lots of people visiting her from Tuesday, she is getting restless as she is yet to come to terms with what has happened," said the doctor treating Rajeshwari.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala also complained of "politicising" of the murder.

"To politicise this as an election issue is unfair and deplorable. Yesterday, I was waylaid by the CPI-M activists when I came out of the Kollam press club," Chennithala told reporters on Thursday in Kochi.

"You just look into the manner in which the numerous cases that have been solved here by our police force. So we are certain this case will be cracked too," the minister added.

The probe is being led by additional director general of Police K. Padmakumar. The team has now been expanded to have 30 personnel.

The autopsy report that was submitted to the police on Wednesday revealed that there were 38 wounds on Jisha's body.

On Wednesday too, the police picked up two migrant workers -- one was involved in the ongoing construction of Jisha's home -- based on their mobile phone call details. One of them was found to have called the victim in February.

The police has released a profile picture of a suspect, based on information gathered from neighbours who saw a man around the victim's house that day.So far half-a-dozen suspects have been questioned.


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