In a small pink house along a narrow lane at Kathrikadavu in Kaloor, scores of mourners gathered on Thursday morning with blood-drained faces and tear-streaked cheeks. It was the last time they would see the Class 12 girl who many called “brilliant.” Finally, when her mortal remains were brought around 4 pm, the wailing began anew.
On Tuesday, 17-year-old Sree (name changed) was abducted by 26-year-old Safar Shah, a Kochi man who had been stalking her for a long period of time. She was taken to a forest region in Valparai in Tamil Nadu and was brutally stabbed to death by the stalker, and dumped in a tea plantation.
The teen girl’s body was sent to the family after the post-mortem was conducted at Kalamassery Medical College in Ernakulam.
"She was an ambitious child who wanted to reach great heights. She had been planning to go abroad for her higher education. She had not yet completed her class 12 exams, but had been diligently applying for scholarships abroad. But he snatched her away," her father told TNM.
The family of four had moved to the rented house only two years ago. Sree’s father said that Safar used to stalk and threaten her, and even told him that he wanted to marry his daughter, to which he had objected.
"Though we knew Safar was stalking her, of late we were told he was no longer disturbing her. Six months ago, she had told us that this guy was disturbing her. I personally met him and threatened him, asking him to stay away from her. At the time, he sounded as if he realised his mistake. I had been escorting my daughter to school every day since then. She had told us that he was no longer disturbing her, but we were wrong. She was being threatened by him," the father said, his eyes welling with tears.
Weeks ago, the teen had been harassed by Safar while she was waiting at a bus stop in the city. "Safar was blocking her at a bus stop and would not allow her to get away. He was even raising death threats. Seeing this, one of our relatives, who happened to be there, intervened and asked him to stay away from her. But we were unaware of this. It is when she went missing that the relative told us about the incident. If he had told me then, I would have been more careful and my daughter would be still living," her father said.
On Tuesday, the father had dropped Sree at school but when he went to pick her up, he could not find her.
Though the family knew the girl was being stalked, they did not file a police complaint. The father had assumed that Safar was staying away from her after he spoke to him.
"My wife had even called him and firmly told him to stay away. Even then he said, he will not follow her anymore. But he was lying. If we had known, we would have filed a police complaint. Everyone is asking why we didn’t file a complaint. But we thought everything was over," the father says.
After keeping the mortal remains of the girl in their house in Ernakulam for about 15 minutes, it was taken to her mother's hometown in Cherthala, Alappuzha, where she has been laid to rest. Meanwhile, Safar was nabbed by the Tamil Nadu police on Tuesday while he was returning after dumping the girl’s body in the tea plantation. He has been brought back to Kochi after being arrested by the officials of the Central Police Station.