A middle-aged woman lies on the road, with her hands tightly covering the back of her head. As the woman lies motionless, two women repeatedly beat her with what looks like a rod. A third woman proceeds to keep a hot spatula on her sole, at which point, the woman gets up and runs for her life.
This is an incident that happened in Kerala's Kochi on Monday, in broad daylight and in the presence of several people. However, despite three women beating up 43-year-old Ambili*, who is mentally ill according to the police, not one came forward to stop the assault.
Ambili was dragged out of a tea shop at Pallipuram in Vypeen, in the neighbourhood she has been living in for years, along with her husband and two daughters.
According to the police, the three women- Liji, Teena and Molly- accused Ambili of creating a ruckus and proceeded to assault her on the road on Monday.
"Liji, Teena and Molly had come to the station to complain against Ambili that morning. They alleged that Amibili threw stones at their houses regularly. When the three women were on their way back home, they happened to see Ambili at the tea shop. They claim that Ambili threw a stone at them, and provoked them to beat her up in public. From the tea shop, Liji took a hot spatula and burned Ambili's sole," Munambam Sub-Inspector Shiju told TNM.
Ambili sustained injuries on her forehead and sole.
The three women have been charged under IPC Sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and have been remanded to 14 days of judicial custody.
Police say that this was not the first time that Ambili and her family have faced the ire of the neighbours.
Why the apathy?
Police say that Ambili has been mentally ill for the past three years and the neighbours had been repeatedly complaining that she was creating trouble. In 2016, for instance, 60 neighbours signed a petition and submitted to the police, demanding that Ambili be shifted to a mental health hospital.
"That time, when we took her to a psychiatrist, he said that she had some minor issues and didn't need hospitalisation. But neighbours say, she continued to cause trouble," the SI said.
However, the police say that they have begun the process to shift Ambili to a mental health hospital in the neighbouring district of Thrissur.
"Today (Wednesday) morning, the neighbours called us again, saying that Ambili threw stones at the houses of those arrested. We took her to a psychiatrist who confirmed that Ambili should be shifted to a mental hospital. After consulting a physician and making sure her health is alright, we will start the procedures," the police said.