A 19-year-old girl from Kerala killed herself after she was taken to the police station along with her female friend in the wee hours of Saturday.
Athira, who is reported to be a Dalit and a native of Kottayam district, was a paramedical staff at KMC Hospital at Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode. Athira and her friend Shabana J were picked up by the police, who found their behaviour suspicious.
At around 2.30 am on Saturday, Athira and her female friend, who were on a two-wheeler, were spotted a little away from the hospital by a team of police led by DSP Ismail.
While they first maintained that they were on their way back from Perambra, they reportedly told the police later that they were learning to drive the two-wheeler. The police team, who were on patrolling duty and found their statements contradictory, then took them to the police station.
The women were let off 30 minutes later, after a hospital staff went to the police station. However, on returning to the hospital, a devastated Athira who went back to her bedroom on the top floor of the hospital building, rushed to the terrace and consumed poison. She was then taken to Kozhikode Medical College, where she breathed her last on Sunday.
Monday saw protests marches being carried out by some womenâ€™s groups and political parties, demanding proper investigation into the matter. Terming the incident as a case of moral policing, DCC president-designate T Siddique lashed out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and demanded answer for the lapses on the part of the police.
Following Athira's death, a special investigation team led by Crime Branch DSP Jaison Abraham was constituted for a detailed probe.
"A comprehensive probe into the woman's death will be carried out. We are now recording the statements of her colleagues and other staff at the hospital. The circumstances under which Athira and her friend were taken to the station will also be scrutinized. If found guilty, no efforts from the police department will be made to safeguard the officer who took them to the station. Action will be taken against the officer if any lapses are revealed," DSP Jaison told The News Minute.
He dismissed allegations that there were no women officers present when the two were taken to the station.
Meanwhile, Kerala State Womenâ€™s Commission Chairperson KC Rosakutty visited the hospital on Tuesday.
"We spoke to the hospital staff here and also the investigating officer. We are now convinced that the investigation is going ahead in the correct direction and the commission need not intervene at this stage. We will be visiting Athira's family in Kottayam soon," she said.
Ismail, husband of an employee at the hospital, has been found to be the owner of the scooter that Athira and her friend were riding.
"It is important to know how the girls got hold of the scooter late in the night. In case the police is not successful in bringing out the truth, the commission will register a suo-motu[ai1] case," Rosakutty added.
A hospital staff who requested anonymity told The News Minute that CCTV footage from the hospital showed the two women venturing out a little past 2am on Saturday night.
"She was a silent kid who used to keep track of her own work and nothing else. They had not ventured out as people say...they had only stepped out for a while. The police station is a stone's throw away from our hospital," the staff said.