Three years after a pair of sisters in Palakkad’s Walayar took their own lives following allegations of sexual assault, police have finally admitted to laxity and lapses in the investigation that ultimately allowed four out of five men in the case to walk free.
In a statement before the Wayanad Judicial Commission, Palakkad district police chief G Siva Vikram admitted that the case suffered serious lapses in the preliminary investigation. He stated that the Sub-Inspector (SI), who led the preliminary investigation, failed to collect evidence and record arrests, Asianet reported. Sub Inspector Chacko was suspended over the lapse.
In January 2017, a 13-year-old girl was found dead in a one-room shed in Walayar. Her nine-year-old sister tried to tell police that she saw two men hiding their faces and running from the house. The police, however, failed to record her statement, and the teen’s post-mortem was also not taken seriously. Months later, the nine-year-old sister was also found dead under the same circumstances. After the trial began two years later, four out of five men accused in the case were acquitted.
From the start, the police’s botched investigation and apathetic efforts created a weak case against the accused — a fact that the Kerala police have now admitted.
Siva Vikram added that the subsequent team, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) MJ Sojan which took over the case, did not show any lapses in the investigation. However, Sojan was criticised for his derogatory remark that the minors had “enjoyed” the sexual harassment. Many also criticised the team after the four men — V Madhu, M Madhu, Pradeep Kumar and Shibu — were acquitted by the Special POCSO Court in October 2019.
While M Madhu and V Madhu are the victims’ mother’s close relatives, Shibu had been living with the family for eight years and Pradeep Kumar lived in the same neighbourhood. The court is yet to pronounce the verdict on the fifth accused, a juvenile.
The prosecution also could not present a strong case due to lack of circumstantial and direct evidence. Some crucial witnesses, including the sisters’ grandmother, turned hostile.