A 7-year-old girl from Kerala's Kollam district was found raped and murdered in the wee hours of Thursday.
The girl's body was found dumped in a rubber estate under the Kulathupuzha police station limits. The workers of the estate, who arrived at around 6 am, found the girl's body and informed the police. The police have arrested 38-year-old Rajesh, who is the girl's aunt's partner. According to the police, Rajesh used to work as a rubber tapping worker.
He had abducted the girl on Wednesday morning, in the pretext of taking the child to her tuition class.
Kollam rural SP told TNM that the girl was reported missing on Wednesday afternoon, following which, the local police had launched a search for the Class 2 student.
The girl was living with her mother, mother's sister and her grandmother. Six months ago, Rajesh too began living with the family, the police said.
"On Wednesday morning, as usual her grandmother was walking the girl to her tuition class. On the way, they met Rajesh and he agreed to leave the girl to her class. However, at around 9 am, the tuition class teacher informed the girl's mother that she hadn't attended class. The girl's father is living separately and the mother initially thought the father must have taken her away for some time. However, by afternoon, they confirmed that the girl was not with her father," the SP said.
Following this, the family filed a police complaint. The police then recovered CCTV footage from a couple of shops, in which, Rajesh was seen walking with the girl and later taking a bus.
Late on Wednesday night, the police found Rajesh hiding inside the Kulathupuzha forest, at least 70 kms away from where the girl's body was found, said police.
"The family never suspected Rajesh, but we focused our probe on him, since he was seen with the girl child last. He has confessed to raping and then murdering the girl to hide the crime. We will record his arrest by afternoon," the SP said.
Rajesh has been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and relevant sections of POCSO.