Kochi | The rape and strangulation to death of a girl near Aluva shocked Kerala and hundreds turned up to pay their respects at the school where the child's body was kept and the cemetery she was buried in. Many were demanding death penalty for the accused.
People, cutting across all ages and from all walks of life, turned up to pay tribute to the child at the school where she was a student till Thursday.
A large crowd was also present at the public cemetary where the victim's body was buried close to 11 am on Sunday after performing the last rites.
Many in the crowd were seen crying as the last rites were performed and the coffin was laid into the ground.
The accused was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a magisterial court earlier in the day and the matter will be heard by a special POCSO court on Monday when the prosecution is planning to seek his custody for seven days.
While the people were heartbroken, the opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP attacked the state government and the police for not being able to prevent the incident.
Both the Congress and its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) alleged that the police was being misused by the state government for its own needs and not for proper policing.
The BJP too spoke along similar lines by saying that the police failed to prevent the incident from happening.
Both the Congress and the BJP were also of the view that there needs to be a proper accounting of the number of migrant workers in Kerala and the persons among them who have criminal backgrounds.
Amidst the severe criticism, the Kerala government on Sunday announced that it was considering bringing a law for making registration of migrant workers mandatory.
The announcement was made by Labour Minister V Sivankutty.
On Friday, the girl was abducted, brutally raped and killed allegedly by a migrant worker from Bihar who lived in the same building as the child's family who too hailed from the same state.
Her body was found dumped in a sack in a marshy area behind a local market in the nearby Aluva area here on Saturday.
The accused was arrested on Friday itself, but could not be interrogated as he was in an inebriated state, police had said.
Several women, including mothers of the victim's playmates and classmates, who were present at the school and the cemetary broke down and said that keeping the accused in jail and feeding him would not be justice.
"He should be killed in the same manner he killed the child. If the government cannot do it, hand him over to the public," they said.
Another woman said that it was a "shocking and heart-wrenching" incident.
"It is unbearable. I could not sleep properly after hearing about this incident. Our laws need to be made more stringent. This should not happen again," she said.
Congress MLA Anwar Sadath said he wants the government and the police to ensure that the accused get the highest punishment of death penalty.
"As a representative of the people and as a father that is what I want. I spoke to the Kerala CM yesterday and requested him not to see it as an isolated incident and end the probe here.
"Post this incident, parents everywhere are scared. So the government and the police need to be more vigilant to prevent recurrence of such incidents," he said.
Becoming emotional while speaking to reporters, the MLA said no one even thought the child would be killed in such a manner and everyone, including him, were hopeful that she would be rescued alive.
BJP's Kerala unit president K Surendran said there should be a system in place to identify any criminal elements among the migrant workers and the alleged use of drugs by some of them.
"There is no monitoring system in place. People are asking for a policing system based on the Uttar Pradesh model. Policing in Kerala is very weak. Proper investigation is not being carried out," he alleged.
BJP leader Sobha Surendran also demanded stringent punishment for the accused and urged people to come out on the streets demanding that the government take action to prevent such incidents from recurring.
After the incident, the opposition Congress had come down heavily on the state police and alleged lapses on their part in tracing the child.
Kerala police chief Shaik Darvesh Saheb had rejected the charges and said
there were no lapses on behalf of the investigators.
The Kerala police had on Saturday posted an apology to the family of the victim on all its social media handles saying that their efforts to reunite the child with her parents proved unsuccessful.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday termed the incident as "unfortunate" and urged the government to take the most stringent action against the accused.
The Governor, speaking to reporters in Delhi, said it was an unfortunate incident not only because someone violated a law, but also for the reason that women enjoy a special status and are respected in Kerala.
"It is most unfortunate. I feel so sad and so ashamed. The government may not be able to prevent everything, but the duty of the government is to take stringent possible action against those responsible so that they become an example and nobody in future dares to do such a thing again," Khan said.
Kochi | The heart-breaking incident of the rape and strangulation death of a five-year-old girl in Aluva here kicked off a political storm in Kerala on Sunday with the Congress-led UDF opposition and the BJP attacking the ruling Left government for the alleged lack of proper policing in the state.
Amidst the brickbats being hurled at it by the Congress and BJP, the Left government announced it was considering bringing a law to make registration of migrant workers mandatory.
On Friday, the five-year-old girl was abducted, brutally raped and killed allegedly by a migrant worker from Bihar who lived in the same building. The child's family too hails from the same state. Her body was found dumped in a sack in a marshy area behind a local market in the nearby Aluva area here on Saturday.
The accused was arrested on Friday itself, but could not be interrogated as he was in an inebriated state, police had said. He was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days on Sunday and the police said it will be seeking his custody for seven days when the matter is heard by a special POCSO court on Monday.
State Labour Minister V Sivankutty said in a government release that presently migrant workers were regulated according to provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act of 1979. The necessary system for registrations of migrants would be prepared by the labour department.
Sivankutty said that over five lakh migrant workers are registered under the Awas Health Insurance Scheme introduced for them, and the labour department will take steps to identify all unregistered workers and get them onboard as well.
Besides that, an 'Athithi (guest) app' would be launched next month to register migrant workers and it will contain comprehensive information about them. Extensive campaigns will be conducted in connection with the app, and labour department officials will visit workers' camps and work places to register them on the app, the minister said.
The announcement came as the Congress and the BJP alleged that the state government was not using the police to ensure law and order and safety of the people, but for other matters. Congress MP K Muraleedharan said that police was busier trying to rectify "microphone problems".
He was making an apparent dig at the recent registration of a case over the malfunctioning of a microphone because it interrupted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's speech for a few seconds during a programme organised to commemorate the life of late Congress stalwart Oommen Chandy.
Speaking about the crime against the minor girl, Muraleedharan said, "It was a heart wrenching incident and an insult to our state. What is the difference now between Kerala and a state like Uttar Pradesh? Is there any security here? The CM needs to take stringent measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents." The Congress MP also pointed out that it was the local residents of the area who found the body of the child the day after the incident and informed the police.
"The child could have been saved,"he added.
He further said that the government needs to view the issue seriously and take steps to find out how many migrant workers are there in the state and how many of them have criminal backgrounds.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a key ally of the Congress, alleged that the state government was using the police against those protesting for their rights.
IUML state general secretary P M A Salam said that the accused in the present case was allegedly addicted to intoxicating substances and could not be questioned after his arrest as he was in an inebriated condition.
"The use of intoxicants and drugs is widespread in Kerala and that is because of the government. Bars that were closed during the Oommen Chandy government have been reopened." he claimed.
The BJP too spoke along similar lines, with Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan lashing out at the police and the state government for "tooting its horn" by announcing the arrest of the accused.
"If police had an iota of shame, it should not toot its horn by saying it caught the accused/culprit after the brutal rape and strangulation death of the victim.
"Why could the police not prevent the incident which took place during the daytime? Moreover, the culprit was able to mislead the police during questioning," the union minister said.
Firing a salvo at the police, he also said that the police were not being paid to apologise on social media -- in an apparent reference to the Kerala Police on Saturday posting an apology to the family of the victim on all its social media handles saying their efforts to reunite the child with her parents proved unsuccessful.
The union minister also said that it needs to be ascertained who all were responsible for the alleged "failure on the part of the police" in the minor girl's case.
BJP's Kerala unit president K Surendran said there should be a system in place to identify any criminal elements among migrant workers and alleged that some of them used drugs.
"There is no monitoring system in place. People are asking for a policing system based on the Uttar Pradesh model. Policing in Kerala is very weak. Proper investigation is not being carried out," he claimed.
State Public Works Department Minister P A Mohamed Riyas responded saying no one has till date said that law and order is poor in Kerala. The state is at the forefront in policing, he said.