Her case has been a trail of miscellaneous leads, all of which have spiralled into nothing

A maze of misleads Jishas case goes nowhere 48 days after her murder
news Justice for Jisha Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 16:30

It has been 48 days since Jisha, a 30-year-old law student was raped and brutally murdered in Perumbavoor, Kerala, on April 28. There have been ‘developments’ galore but almost little that counts as real progress in the case.

Her case has been a trail of multiple stories, all of which have spiralled into nothing as the glaring media limelight refuses to diminish. The irony of the situation lies in the fact that while there have been continuous reports of ‘new developments’ they seldom appear to be related or followed up on.

Six days after the murder, the police reportedly released a sketch of a suspect based on eyewitness accounts. However, they refused to provide clarification on the same when sought.

This would be the first of the three inconclusive sketches that the police would release in the future of the investigation.

Prejudiced generalization made many to point fingers at migrant labourers, simply because Perumbavoor has many.

Again faced with the lack of any real leads, news reports on May 9 featured a new ‘twist’ where Jisha’s sister Deepa was called in to identify objects seized from their house. Earlier reports had said that the suspected migrant labourer was known to Deepa.

The police detained seven persons including apparently, Jisha’s neighbour, a relative of Jisha’s and his friend, and a migrant labourer who had allegedly hit Jisha’s mother three months ago on a bike. The resulting argument between Jisha and the labourer, the pressure on her family to vacate the house were both explored as reasons for the gruesome assault and murder.

However, these trails too lead to dead ends, not helped by the silence of the authorities on where the investigation was really headed.

On May 14 though, with the political pressure cooker heating up due to the upcoming Assembly polls, there were reports that said that the police had identified a suspect based on the bite marks on the Jisha’s body and the teeth structure of the suspect.

On the same day another report claimed that the police had arrested one Hari Kumar, a Bengali migrant labourer in connection with the crime. However, the claims remained unconfirmed.

Logically, that could have been the end of the case; however, after a small hiatus, the media was fed the juiciest nugget yet – that Jisha was the illegitimate child of the senior Congress leader and UDF convener PP Thankachan. There was no mention of Hari Singh.

Human rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal submitted a letter to the then chief minister alleging the involvement of the Congress member. While the letter did not mention Thankachan by name, speculations caused a furor in the media with reports linking the politician to the case. It was also alleged that before her death, Jisha had approached the leader asking about her share of the assets.

Jomon alleged that Jisha’s mother Rajeshwari used to work as a domestic help at Thankachan’s residence for two decades and that Jisha’s body had been burnt so that her paternity could not be contested.

While Jisha’s father said that the part about his wife working as a domestic help at Thankachan’s house was true, both Rajeshwari and Thankachan denied Jomon’s claims and threatened legal action against him.

However, like all stories, this one had a limited shelf life too. After almost a month of back and forth and inconclusive investigations, Pinarayi Vijayan, then the newly sworn in chief minister of the state said that the people were quite dissatisfied with how the case was handled and that a new SIT would be constituted.

And so ADGP Sandhya was handed over the baton. About a week later, the team released another sketch of a suspect, third in the course of the probe. There was no mention or clarification about the previous sketches or arrests or about Thankachan’s involvement.

About a fortnight after the new SIT took over the case, a report in the Open magazine revealed a shocking discrepancy between the police’s estimated time of death and the autopsy’s estimate. If the autopsy report was to be believed, it placed the police’s estimate off mark by 12 to 14 hours after the actual murder happened.

Four days ago the police apparently found CCTV footage which reportedly shows the suspected killer following Jisha. Even so, the police chose to remain tight lipped and details were scarce apart from agency reports.

There is no news of any follow up about the previous leads, even as the newest twist reveals that Jisha was visited by a woman on the day she died. This woman apparently had a heated argument with her. The police now suspect that Jisha’s last words - “this is why I don’t trust anyone” – were meant for this mysterious woman.

After an entire discourse of varied suspects, arrests and leads, the case stands nowhere close to solved. While the police continue to go round in circles and the new appointments and change of guard glamorize the investigation, social media and protest banners seem to be the only places where ‘Jisha’ appears close to ‘Justice’.