Bus conductor leads police to auto driver

A bus conductor who happened to see an autorickshaw with the name “Rajamma” emblazoned on its rear near the house of Arya, 15, who was murdered at Vattappara on March 7 afternoon, helped the police crack the crime-for-profit case.

On Tuesday, the police arrested the vehicle's driver, M. Rajesh Kumar, 30, a resident of Kattakada, in connection with the standard 10 student's murder.

Circle Inspector, Venjaramoodu, K.R. Biju, said the witness told the police that the autorickshaw's number started with KL-01. He could not recollect its full registration number but “remembered its name.” Investigators verified over 1,000 autorickshaws which have registration numbers starting with the same alphanumeric.

They found that a person in Fort owned four autorickshaws bearing the name “Rajamma”. They collected the mobile phone numbers of his drivers.

Investigators found that Rajesh had received and made calls on his mobile phone from a communications tower near the girl's residence between 2.45 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. on the day of the murder.

According to the police, Rajesh had come to Vettinadu near Vattappara to drop a passenger. His vehicle developed a snag in front of Arya's house.

The girl, who was standing on the porch of her house, offered to give him the tools her father, a part-time auto-driver and mechanic, had stocked. Then, two of Arya's neighbours also came along. The three children pushed Rajesh's auto to get it started.

After the other two students left, Rajesh entered Arya's house on the pretext of returning the tool. Arya was alone at home. He asked for a glass of water. According to investigators, he caught the girl's hand with the intention of sexually exploiting her. When the girl struggled, Rajesh throttled her.

He divested her of her gold necklace and ring. The police said Rajesh strangled her with a towel. He then wagered the gold ornaments, by giving a fake address, in a nearby pawn shop.

The police said that Rajesh owed his relatives, particularly his sister and brother-in-law who live near Arya's house, a considerable sum of money. He has no criminal background, is married, and has a daughter.

Investigators described the murder as a “spur-of-the-moment crime for financial gain”. The accused will be produced before the court on Wednesday.

The two students and the staff of the pawn shop identified Rajesh. The police had a difficult time protecting him from the wrath of the local people who had mobbed the scene of crime and the pawn shop when he was taken there.