Hundreds of people searched for her at Kollam district, thousands shared updates by the minute on social media platforms for over 12 hours... but all the prayers and efforts turned futile as 6-year-old Devananda's dead body has been found now. Her body was found floating in Ithikkara lake near her home in Elavoor in Kollam district on Friday morning.
Her identity has been confirmed by Circle Inspector Vipin Kumar.
On Thursday, the diving team searched the Ithikkara lake extensively and found nothing. By night it had been ruled out that the girl may have accidentally fallen into the lake. On Friday morning, however, residents in the area spotted a body in the lake. A person on the ground told TNM that it could have been possible that the body was stuck in mud on the first day and therefore was not visible. The location where the child's body was found in around 600-700 metre away from her house.
The body was swelled up, with strands of her hair entangled on a tree branch in the lake. Her body has been brought out and will be examined by scientific department. A brown dupatta was also found near her body. It is yet to be established if it belonged to her or her mother.
Devananda - the daughter of Pradeep Kumar and Dhanya - had gone missing on Thursday morning. Her mother had told the media that around 10.15 am, the girl had followed her when she went to wash clothes near the house. But the mother asked her to wait in the house. When the mother reached the house, the girl was missing.
"I did not note anything suspicious. She never goes to any other houses to play; she plays only within the premises of the house," the mother had told Asianet.
After the mother informed her neighbours and the police, a massive hunt was launched for the little girl who was called 'Ponnu' at home. Police personnel, dog squad and diving squads were used to trace the girl.
On receiving the news that his daughter has been missing, Pradeep left for Kerala from abroad, where he was working. However, on reaching his native, he learnt that his daughter has been found dead.
People from across Kerala and beyond started sharing posts on social media with pictures of the girl. Many celebrities too pitched in sharing her pictures.
A poster made to identify the girl
During the search for the little girl, too, fake news had spread on Thursday that her body had been found. With this fake news getting circulated heavily, the police were forced to issue a warning that they would take action against anyone who shares it. Police feared that the fake news would dissuade people from looking for the girl.
According to the residents in the neighbourhood, Devananda is not a person who would venture out to the lake on her own, without informing her mother.
The body will be sent for postmortem.