Two years after two minor sisters in Walayar in Palakkad district were found dead in mysterious circumstances, a court in Palakkad has acquitted three persons who were accused of abetment of suicide and rape. It was in January 2017 that 11-year-old Malathi* was found dead in her house. Her dead body was found by her nine-year-old sister Rani*. Two months later, on March 4, Rani too was found dead, leading to massive outrage in the state.
On Friday, the First Additional Sessions Judge (Special POCSO Court) of Palakkad district acquitted three accused in the case - V Madhu, Shibu and M Madhu and - citing that the prosecution was not able to prove their involvement in the case.
Earlier on September 30, Judge Muralikrishnan had acquitted another accused in the case, Pradeep Kumar.
All the accused were known to the sistersâ€™ family. While V Madhu and M Madhu are the girlsâ€™ motherâ€™s close relatives, Shibu, a former co-worker of the parents, had been living with the family for eight years. Pradeep and the fifth accused, a juvenile were their neighbours. The court is yet to pronounce its verdict on the fifth accused.
All the accused were booked under IPC section 305 (Abetment to suicide) and 376 (rape), SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, various sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
The mother of the children has expressed disappointment at the verdict. Despite the post-mortem showing that the sisters had been sexually assaulted, the prosecution was not able to prove that any of the men played a role in it.
â€śThere was no circumstantial or scientific evidence against my client Pradeep Kumar. When the first kid died in January 2017, the police did nothing other than file a case of unnatural death. Following the outrage over the second sisterâ€™s death, they made a list of accused and Pradeep was added to it, there was no proof,â€ť Pradeepâ€™s advocate Suresh told TNM.
14-year-old Malathi* was found dead in her one-room makeshift house in Walayar in Kerala's Palakkad district in January 2017.
Two months later, her nine-year-old sister Rani* was found dead the same way and tucked away inside her petticoat was a photograph of her elder sister.
When TNM visited the couple in March 2018, they had said that they had been aware about the elder daughter being sexually abused. They alleged that V Madhu had abused their daughter and she had confided about it to her mother.
The girlsâ€™ father told TNM that he had caught Madhu sexually assaulting his daughter, but they only told him to never enter their house and did not go to the police.
"I was helpless, I could only cry along with her and hope for the abuse to stop. Madhu wouldn't come home when my husband and I were there," the mother said.
The family later said that they had failed to understand how their younger daughter felt about the tragedy as she was the one who had discovered her sisterâ€™s dead body.
Rani had refused to go to school and was unnaturally quiet, according to the parents. The nine-year-old killed herself a few days after she rejoined school.
The police later said that even the younger daughter had been sexually assaulted.