Less than 24 hours after the murder of a four-year-old girl in Chennai, the city police have arrested her neighbour and a relative of the child. The police have also confirmed that the child was raped before she was murdered and her body dumped in a bucket in her bathroom.
The 60-year-old man, identified as Meenakshi Sundaram, who had worked in the army before, allegedly raped the child before she was asphyxiated to death. Meenakshi Sundaramâ€™s wife Rajamma too has been arrested. She had attempted to obstruct justice by cleaning evidence.
Speaking to TNM, investigating officers said that the post mortem of the child done at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai confirmed a case of rape and murder. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation.
The child had been home alone on Thursday evening for a short while when her father was at work and her mother had gone to drop off her brother at his tuition class nearby. Meenakshi Sundaram, living on the first floor of the two-floored house that the family stayed in, is alleged to have taken the child to his house, raped her and murdered her in his bedroom.
However, before he got time to dump the body, the child's mother came back home and raised an alarm when she could not find her daughter. In order to be above suspicion, when the frantic parents searched the neighbourhood for the child upon their return, Meenakshi Sundaram, too, pretended to aid their efforts. He even accompanied them to the police station to file a complaint. According to a police source, when the parents came back from the police station, they had stopped to speak to a few neighbours. During this time, Meenakshi Sundaram allegedly took the body and dumped it in the bucket.
In a horrifying sight for the family of the four-year-old, the child was then found inside their own bathroom. Her body was stuffed into the woven plastic bag, which bore the name of a rice company, and was placed inside a water bucket with her feet up.
â€śThere were three main clues to determine that Meenakshi Sundaram had committed the crime â€” half of the girlâ€™s gold ear stud was found on the bed of his house, the lint on his bed matched the lint on girlâ€™s body and lastly, the family didnâ€™t own or use a rice bag like the one the child was found in. It was his.â€ť said one police source.
According to the police, Meenakshi Sundaramâ€™s wife, who also had knowledge of the crime, helped him in wiping off evidence at their home. The couple also allegedly gave contradictory statements to the police.
An FIR has been registered against Meenakshi Sundaram under sections 376A (punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim) and 302 (punishment for murder), in addition to section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault).
A case, meanwhile, has been filed against Rajamma under Indian Penal Code section 201 (destroying evidence) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).