Arumugam*, a daily wage labourer from Sitling village in Dharmapuri district has barely got a wink of sleep over the past week. The Adivasi man has been grieving over the death of his daughter who came home from boarding school to celebrate Deepavali with the family.
“She was very quiet. She would just do her work and concentrate on studies,” opens up Arumugam. A Class 12 student from Sitling village, his 17-year-old daughter Nithya* went to the woods near her home to answer nature's call. Two men, Satish, 22 and Ramesh, 22, allegedly gagged and raped her. Days later, Nithya died at the Dharmapuri General Hospital after being admitted on complaints of dizziness and nausea.
The quiet student, Arumugam says, wanted to become the Deputy Superintendent of Police.
“She wanted to fight crime. She would say she wanted to become a DSP and put all the criminals in jail. Thappu seyaravangala muttiki mutti thattiduven nu soluva.(She would say that she would beat wrongdoers),” says the emotional father.
Narrating the ordeal that the family has had to endure, Arumugam says that the police had treated them poorly from the start.
“We went to give complaint but they didn’t take it. We called the collector’s office and then they agreed to take the complaint. They said that they will punish the culprits and asked us to leave. We went to the hospital to give her glucose and injection. Then they sent her to a home,” he says.
The distraught parents have been running from pillar to post in an attempt to understand why their daughter, who was doing well until Saturday morning, suddenly died. They have alleged that the police not only took bribes to drive to their ‘far away’ tribal hamlet but also that the police had dictated the contents of the complaint to their daughter.
Nithya’s death has seen an outpouring of outrage from several social and political activists who have alleged that the police had attempted to cover-up the crime.
“The collector came and visited us. She has promised action. Let’s see what happens. I couldn’t help her achieve her dreams. What more can we do?” asks a dismayed Arumugam.
While the two accused in the case have been arrested, there have been no disciplinary proceedings or charges against the police officers who reportedly displayed negligence in handling the issue. Meanwhile, the family hopes that they their son, who works in a garment factory in Tirupur, is given a government job.