In a shocking incident of violence, an 18-year-old man set a young woman on fire in broad daylight on Tuesday morning in Pathanamthitta in Kerala.
The victim, 20-year old Kavitha Vijayakumar, is critical after sustaining 65% burn injuries and currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Thiruvalla.
The local police have taken into custody the accused, Ajin Reji Mathew, a resident of Kumbanad. The incident took place around 9.30 am on Tuesday when the victim, a BSc student at the Tata Institute of Medical Sciences, was on her way to college. According to eyewitnesses, the victim and the stalker were seen having a heated conversation near the Chilanka junction in Thiruvalla around 8.30 am. Following this, the stalker, who had brought with him two bottles of petrol, emptied the fuel on the victim and set her on fire.
Police sources say that the victim and the stalker studied together in school.
Speaking to TNM, an officer from the Thiruvalla police said, "During questioning, the accused has given a statement claiming that they both were in a relationship. But that is his version and we are yet to verify this.” Reports state that the victim and her family had rejected a marriage proposal from the accused, following which the incident took place.
The accused, who is in the custody of the Thiruvalla police, is currently undergoing a medical test at the Government Hospital.
“Following the incident, the accused had to tried to flee from the scene, but was caught by bystanders and handed over to the police,” the officer added.
Bystanders also helped douse the fire and took the girl to the hospital.
In a similar incident in February 2017, a young man had set a girl on fire in Kottayam, that too inside a classroom of the Kottayam School of Medical Education (KSME), after the girl had been rejecting his advances. The man had doused himself with petrol first and then targeted the girl. With more than 80% burns, both of them succumbed to their injuries later at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kottayam.
Adarsh (26) was a former student of Physiotherapy at the Gandhinagar center of KSME, while the girl was identified as Lekshmi (21), a final year student at the same college.