In April 2016, a 29-year-old Dalit law student from Ernakulam district in Kerala was brutally raped and murdered inside her home. In the aftermath of the crime, protests erupted all across the state with activists and the victim’s friends demanding that the police take up action. It was only after 49 days that Kerala police arrested the accused, after having detained seven suspects.
However, three years later, the activists who staged demonstrations against the alleged police inaction have been booked by a local court. Around 12 people, including activist Maya Krishnan, have been accused of being a part of unlawful assembly, rioting, being armed with deadly weapons and deterring public servants from their duty.
Krishnan posted a picture of the summons in a Facebook post:
In the post, Krishnan recounts how the police had apparently treated her when she went to inquire about the status of the investigation. She told The Cue,
“She was the classmate of my junior in college. When I called the Kuruppampady police station with the details I got from her classmates, the cops told me to provide any leads in the case if I have any. The police also told that they were busy with the election duties. When she was alive, she and her mother had even given complaints to the police stating that their lives are under threat. If the news about her had not circulated on social media after five days of her death, the case would have gone unnoticed.”
“Even after her death, the police continued the same apathy towards her. Because the one who had died was a woman living in a one-room house in a ‘Poramboke Land’”
In the days after the case, the state police were criticised for their handling of the case. The victim’s autopsy was allegedly performed by a student and after the procedure, the body of the victim was cremated on the apparent direction of the police. The police were also accused of negligence as one of the men interrogated for the crime accused the police of beating him up and was later found hanging in the bedroom of his house. The case was also transferred between investigating officers.
Taking place in the backdrop of the 2016 Kerala legislative elections, the crime gained nationwide attention and was the focus of the campaign of political parties. Women’s rights groups and other activist groups across Kerala took to the streets of Kerala, expressing their outrage over the crime and the alleged handling of the case. The case trended on Twitter for three days as people poured their anger over the case with hashtags. The government had declared a financial consolation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the victim and a home to be provided to her parents.