Thiruvananthapuram | The brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman at Perumbavoor is becoming campaign material for the May 16 Assembly polls with both ruling UDF and rival LDF trading charges over the issue of safety of women in Kerala.
Criticism against police for the way it handled the case and alleged failure of government machinery in nabbing the culprits even a week after the incident has apparently pushed the Congress-led UDF government to a corner.
The woman, a law student who hailed from a poor family, was allegedly subjected to rape and brutal assault using sharp edged weapons before being murdered at her house at nearby Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district on April 28. The incident had triggered widespread protests across the state.
The CPI(M)-led opposition has tried to corner the government over the fact that the incident came to the limelight only four days after the crime. They have also alleged that police tried to cover up the incident in view of the elections and that the heinous crime was indication of collapse of the law and order situation under Congress rule.
However, government immediately announced a solatium of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family and a job to her sister. Putting up a brave face, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had yesterday said government was committed to ensuring the safety of women and would bring the culprits to justice at the earliest. He cited the speedy probe and trial that took place in the case of the murder of Saumya, who was pushed out of a moving train and raped in Thrissur district a few years ago.
Chandy also said police in the state was very quick in solving some sensational murder cases and ensured maximum punishment to the culprits. Referring to opposition criticism on police handling the Perumbavur rape case, he said it was a tragedy which should not have happened but no one should politicise the issue.
Both Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who came to visit the victim’s ailing mother at a hospital, had to feel the heat of CPI(M) activists, who raised slogans against the government. Chennithala had to return without meeting the woman due to the protests.
Marxist veteran and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan has alleged that the Congress government had shown total negligence in the investigation and dereliction of duty from the side of police cannot be justified at any cost. The pain of a mother, who brought up her daughter by doing petty jobs, is unbearable, the 93-year-old leader said, adding, the brutality was much worse than what happened in the Nirbhaya case.
Achuthanandan also alleged that police was trying to take somebody into custody and portray them as accused and there should be protests against this move. Echoing similar sentiments, CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said the incident clearly showed that the government is a total failure in ensuring safety of women in the state.
Chandy has countered the allegations, saying this is an occasion for all the people to come together keeping aside political affiliations.It is a time to stand united and treat the incident as a social menace. He also hit out at the opposition for staging protests and preventing the Home Minister from visiting the victim’s ailing mother.
The Chief Minister also said senior political leaders like Achuhanandan and Balakrishnan should show some more maturity while reacting to incidents like this. Congress minister and state minister for Excise K Babu said CPI(M)’s attempt to politicise the tragedy is shameful and using it as a campaign tool condemnable.
Accusing government of completely failing to protect dalits and women, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan has alleged that law and order situation is deteriorating in Kerala.
He claimed that both LDF and UDF have not been able to do anything to protect marginalised sections of society.