Shadowed by the rampant news coverage of Jallikattu protests being held all over Tamil Nadu was the gruesome incident of gang rape and murder of sixteen year old Nandini near Ariyalur. One similar scenario happened while Tamil Nadu was held up in debates, speculations and arguments over Panneerselvam vs. Sasikala, a seven year old girl child, Hasini, went missing near Porur area in Chennai.
On Feb 5th evening, before she went missing, the girl Hasini was reported to be playing with her friends within the apartment complex. Her father Babu, who works for a private software firm, and mother, a school teacher, thought of leaving her behind as they went for shopping, taking only Hasini’s younger brother, studying in LKG, along with them. Least did they expect that Hasini would not be around when they returned. After a fruitless search in the neighborhood, they reported the incident to the police control room around 10 pm.
Initially suspecting this to be a kidnap, the police scanned their records for the list of criminals historically involved in kidnap cases. But when they did not receive any ransom call even on the following day, they furthered their investigations. After getting to know from the apartment CCTV that Hasini hadn’t left the complex, suspicions deepened on people in the neighborhood, in addition to the probable suspects put forth by Hasini’s parents, namely, the milkman, the newspaper boy and a lady from the local laundry ironing centre.
Amongst the investigated was Tashvanth, the guy who lived next door to Hasini’s family. According to CCTV records, around 6.15 pm on 5th Feb, after returning from play, Hasini was seen entering his house from which she never came back. She had reportedly stopped there to visit his dog. Later the same evening, Tashvanth was seen leaving his flat with a bag and re-entering the flat around 10 pm that night with the same bag.
Tashvanth, aged 22, has completed his D.M.E. and was working in a private software company. He was, in fact, one of the first members to get in touch with the police regarding this incident and was with them throughout the investigation. He had faked an alibi saying he was out with his family during the incident, but he was unaware that the police already had evidence to prove that he was at his house all the time.
To listen to someone’s story when you know they are lying might be quite interesting. That is what the police did in this case. However, after a point, Tashvanth realized that he would be caught and hence revealed that he had raped, killed and burnt Hasini.
That evening, as Hasini walked into his house to play with his dog, Tashvanth has tried to rape her. When she screamed out loud, in an attempt to muffle her scream, he has stuffed a pillow to her face. This asphyxiated Hasini to death. In order to get rid of the body, Tashvanth has carried it in a bag to Anagaputhur area and burnt it in secrecy. When police finally reached the place, they found Hasini’s body charred beyond recognition.
Investigating officer, Ambattur’s deputy commissioner, Sudhakar, said that Tashvanth did not seem to be perturbed in the least, nor did he seem to realize that what he did is a criminal offense. He was quite emotionless when he took the police to the site where he had burnt her. Cases had been filed under IPC Section 211 (False charge of offense made with intent to injure) and 302 (Punishment for murder). He would definitely be awarded punishment, said officer Sudhakar.
As Tashvanth was arrested near his house, people from the neighborhood tried to attack him out of anger. Quoting from the words of Sabi, member of an NGO ‘Manithi’, “There is nothing wrong in beating a heartless man who has raped and murdered a small child. Hasini’s parents are in a deep shock, unable to even cry out for their child. After looking for the convict everywhere and suspecting outsiders, it is extremely troublesome to realize the murderer is the man next door. This has shaken their trust on humanity. They would not know whom to trust again. Giving the most extreme punishment to the convict alone can bring justice to Hasini and her family.”
How can one possibly identify such potential criminals? This case clearly tells us that bad people do not come from any particular group or social strata. Good education, respectable jobs are not necessarily the markers for good people. It doesn’t matter whether the skin is white and beautiful from the outside, what matters is whether the heart is not black within.
Incidents of rape and murder are not new to us. But it is terrifying to hear of one so close to home. Most of these criminals live amongst us. Child abuse, which is a fundamental problem in Indian society, is perpetrated more often by family members and close family friends rather than outsiders. About 94.8% of children suffer from some form of abuse. Parents need to monitor their children closely and pay heed to their emotional needs. In spite of the presence of several NGOs and support groups working against sexual abuse and rape, the numbers continue to be high at around 6 rape cases a day and close to 15 cases of molestation. Giving the highest possible punishment to these convicts will definitely send out a strong message to the society. Until then, unfortunately, every other girl and every other child continue to live in perpetual fear that someday it might happen to them.
- Aishwarya Govindarajan
Translation By: Rachana.R