It was on February 5 that a seven-year went missing from her home in Chennai, only to be found dead and dumped at a roadside near Anakaputhur. Her neighbour was found guilty of sexually assaulting and gagging her to death.
Protests in Mugalivakkam had hardly died down when another case of child-murder was reported from near Thiruvottiyur , when the body of three-year old Neena* was retrieved from a dumpyard at Ennore on Sunday.
Speaking to The News Minute, the Ennore police say that the child was found with a black cloth stuffed inside her mouth, her face blue and her eyes bulging out.
The police say that one of the neighbours (a woman) has confessed to the crime, and prima facie, it appears to be a murder for theft. Only once the post-mortem report is made available, will the police be able to confirm if there was any sexual assault.
Five people have currently been detained and are being interrogated in this regard. The case has also been shifted to the Women’s police station at Ennore.
The child's body had apparently been carried away in a Corporation truck and was spotted by a rag-picker who was sifting through the heaps of waste that had been unloaded at the yard.
Speaking to The News Minute, Neena’s mother- recalled the unbelievably horrifying turn of events that took place within a matter of hours on the tragic weekend:
"On Saturday, around 12:30 at noon, Revathi-the mother of one of her (Neena’s) friends- dropped in, asking whether we would send Neena to play with her children. I allowed Neena to go, as the woman said that her daughter was creating a fuss and wanted to play with Neena.
Around 1:45 pm, since it was lunch-time, I went to their house to pick up my daughter. When I went there, one of their relatives present at the time said Neena had come there to play, but had left a little while ago. Everyone then began looking for her.”
The distraught mother even went to the nearby fish-market to look for her child.
There she saw Revathi and her two daughters eating ice- cream. “When I asked her where Neena was, she replied that while she was trying to bring Neena home, Neena began crying, so she asked her go home on her own,” the disbelief in the mother's voice apparent.
By evening, with still no signs of her daughter turning up, Neena's mother and her husband who works at a printing press filed a complaint at the Ennore police station.
“On Sunday morning, we were asked to come to Stanley hospital. I went there. But I did not have the courage to look at her face. She was dead," whimpered the mother through her sobs.
Utterly shaken to the core, she asks: “Do you know…my daughter used to talk a lot….she was very smart. How can I live without her? She was my life.”
Revathi who has reportedly confessed to the crime is currently being interrogated along with her parents and her two brothers by the police.
An inspector from the Ennore police station says, "Revathi has been more or less confirmed as the accused, but the actual reason for murder is yet to be known.”
Revathi is a divorcee and lives with her parents, two brothers and her two daughters in the building opposite Neena’s home. Police sources say that Neena was murdered for the gold chain around her waist and her gold anklets, with Revathi confessing that the stolen ornaments were sold to a jewellery shop in the vicinity.
Women from the locality who are gathered outside Neena’s home are still reeling under the shock of having a heinous crime committed right at their doorsteps, and apparently by one of their own. All of them want those responsible to be punished with immediate effect.
Chitra, a relative shudders: "After this incident, how am I supposed to even let my children go out? It is not safe for them at all. Stern action should be taken against such people, so that none dare repeat such a horrible crime.”
Little Neena is survived by her parents and six-year old brother.
(Victim's name changed to protect identity)