19-year-old Ganesh is still reeling in shock, two days after the murder of his younger sister. The young man had been working in a workshop near his residence at Perur in Coimbatore district, when his sister and father were brutally attacked. The culprit, a 24-year-old mechanic named Ratheesh had been stalking his minor sister for the last six months and on Friday, at around 8 pm, he murdered the young girl outside her house. He then stabbed and slashed her father who attempted to rescue her, with the same knife.
"My family lived in a rented house next to Ratheesh's residence till a few years ago, when we moved to our own house in the same locality. We knew he was in love with my sister and in January this year, my parents even went and spoke to his mother, asking her to stop him from stalking Lavanya*, " says Ganesh. "My sister was a minor and a first year B.Com (Bachelor of Commerce) student, so we told them that she needs to focus on her studies. He belonged to a different community and was an alcoholic," he alleges.
According to police investigating the case, Ratheesh and the girl were friends and in talking terms. When he proposed to her, she however turned him down after her family advised her against it . He would then allegedly follow her when she went to the market to buy vegetables or went about town. But once the lockdown began, this stopped.
"The girl stayed at home and Ratheesh was frustrated that he couldn't see her and that she wouldn't pick up his calls," explains Coimbatore Superintendent of Police Ara Arularasu. "He has gone with a weapon to the house and attacked her. Her father tried to stop him and he was assaulted as well," he adds.
On hearing them shout in pain, a neighbour attempted to stop Ratheesh, but he fled leaving his shirt and the murder weapon behind, says the victim's uncle Murugan.
"He held her neck and continuously stabbed her," says 45-year-old Murugan. "My brother too received 5 cuts. They were rushed to the Coimbatore Medical college and hospital. The doctors then took her for emergency surgery but she didn't survive. My brother is still undergoing treatment. We just can't come to terms with what has happened," he adds.
The Coimbatore SP points out that families, when faced with even minor incidents of stalking should approach the local police for help. A warning from the police, he says, could have kept the accused in check. Three police teams have now been formed to nab Ratheesh who is absconding.
But the girl's family is barely following the chase.
"What does it matter now? She is gone and my father is in the hospital," says Ganesh. "My sister had such a joyful presence in the house and was always happy. It is her birthday on August 2 and she was to turn 18. But instead of celebrating, we are conducting her last rites."