The police are at a loss to handle the uproar caused by the Attingal double-murder case

The gruesome murder of a woman and her toddler granddaughter; a tale of illicit love and deceit; frenzied media coverage, and then the outburst of anger against the accused from his erstwhile colleagues — the Attingal double-murder of April 16 hogged the limelight this past week.

For the police, in spite of the quick arrests — both the accused were arrested within 24 hours of the offence — the rest of the procedures turned tougher than expected. The attempt to collect evidence from Technopark, where the first accused was employed, turned into an embarrassing episode after the accused was mobbed and manhandled.

The incident prompted the police to make tight security arrangements the next day when he was taken to the crime scene, where a crowd had gathered. A large posse of police, convoys to accompany the jeep carrying the accused, and a hurried evidence collection process that lasted barely 15 minutes were the consequence of the Technopark experience.

Now, how the process would be handled for the second accused, for whose custody the police may move the court shortly, remains to be seen.

Trial by social media

From the minute the news hit public domain, the Attingal double murder was never just a tabloid sensation. While sections of the media churned out stories on how the murder was committed and so on, a parallel trial was set in motion on the social media.

From Twitter to Facebook, tweets and posts discussed the killing threadbare. The Facebook profile of both the accused had more visitors than ever, with the profile photo of the second accused, and her daughter who was killed, being shared over a 100 times. Another picture of the woman and her husband, who was injured in the attack, along with the child was shared 170 times. Her profile too was shared, some going to the extent of adding poems and narratives that included references to ‘the wicked mother who threw her child to a murderer’s bloodthirsty knife’.

The social-media trial, along with the mainstream media coverage, elicited angry response from the techie community, obviously upset over a crime committed by two individuals resulting in bad publicity for the entire fraternity. A website run by techies pointed out that sections of the media had gone to the extent of writing on the “immoral lifestyle and drug habits” of techies just because the accused were working in a Technopark firm.

Amidst unconfirmed reports that the second accused was also manhandled by fellow prisoners in the jail where she was remanded in judicial custody, the out-of-court trial is also slowly raising questions as to whether media coverage, and not just the crime, can affect public sentiments and trigger violent outbursts.

(Reporting by Dennis Marcus Mathew)