The rustic village of Meenakshipuram, around 10 km away from Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district, got a rude shock on Friday night that the villagers are still finding hard to believe.
One of its residents, 22-year-old P Ramkumar, was arrested for allegedly hacking to death 24-year-old Infosys employee Swathi at the Nungambakkam railway station last week.
Read: Swathi murder: Young engineer Ramkumar arrested, here is what we know about him
For most of the villagers, there is a feeling of utter disbelief that Ramkumar could be involved in such a gruesome crime as they knew him as a ‚Äúcalm, quiet and shy person‚ÄĚ who kept to himself.
Kani, one of Ramkumar's neighbours, says, ‚ÄúThat he committed a murder is unimaginable."
He goes on to describe him as a loner, someone ‚Äúwho did not have a single friend in the village‚ÄĚ. "There are several boys of his age in the village who socialise or play games together. But Ramkumar never joined them. He was always engrossed in his work," Kani says.
Ramkumar's family, like many others in Meenakshipuram, raised goats. According to Kani, Ramkumar particularly liked taking their over-a-dozen goats out for grazing.
"In the last week, he was very much present in the village. We saw him frequently and he looked quite normal. Also, there have been no untoward incidents involving him or his family in the village in the past," he says.
Valarma, who runs a grocery shop in the village, says she has been seeing Ramkumar right from the time he was a child. While she did not know him personally, she says "he never mingled with anyone and always looked down while walking. His parents and sisters were however very good and social. I can't believe he has done something like this."
Ramkumar, an engineering student, apparently has some pending papers to clear in some subjects, and in the last few months was preparing to clear them. It was around the same time that he had moved to Chennai, say the villagers.
In Meenakshipuram, he lived in one of the several nondescript houses dotting the village with his father Paramasivam, mother Padma and two sisters- one a teacher and the other an engineering student.
Several hours after his arrest, the small house with a tiled roof and sans a courtyard is bereft of any of its occupants, barring the few policemen guarding it. Passersby stop outside the house occasionally before moving on.
When the police approached his house last night in civilian clothes, Ramkumar's father apparently shouted and alerted his son to their presence, following which the son went inside and slit his own throat.
He was moved to a hospital and the other family members were taken into custody for interrogation. A local policeman said that the police suspect that the family had prior knowledge about his involvement in the crime.
In the house, the police found a notebook with notes about criminal procedures and interrogations, supposedly written by Ramkumar. They also found that he had collected newspapers from the last week detailing the updates in the Swathi murder case.
(Edited by Monalisa Das.)
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