As the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train (56608) lurched into motion and pulled out of the Ernakulam Town railway station on the evening of February 1, a 23-year-old woman had settled in its women's compartment.
She had rushed to catch the train after borrowing Rs.100 from the shop in a mall in Kochi where she was employed. Her family lived in a rented house at Chuduvalathur, near Shoranur. Reaching home that night was important for her as a man would call on her family next day to discuss a marriage proposal.
Three hours later, passengers Tomy Devassy and Abdul Shukur informed railway guard Joby Scaria and the railway police at Shoranur that they had heard a woman's cries for help and seen a person jump off the train.
Around 10 p.m., railway gangman Krishnan and local residents found the 23-year-old with severe head injuries in the woods about 400 metres from the Vallathol Nagar railway station.
She was rushed to the Wadakkanchery Taluk Hospital and later the Thrissur Government Medical College Hospital by a security vehicle that escorted the then Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran who was returning from Thrangali where a blast had occurred in a fireworks manufacturing unit.
A team of neurosurgeons at the Thrissur Government Medical College Hospital operated on her and removed blood clots from her brain. But, she developed secondary complications and died at 3 p.m. February 6 at 3 p.m.
On February 3, the police arrested Govindachamy, 33, of Virudhachalam in Salem as part of the investigation. A regular on trains on this stretch, he had allegedly been involved in petty theft cases. He has had his left hand amputated.
According to the police, he pushed her out of the train after trying to snatch her purse. He then allegedly raped her. He was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 302 (murder) and 376 (rape).
The incident shocked society's conscience. It triggered widespread protests across the State and debates on safety of women passengers.
Trial of the case began on June 6. Thrissur Fast Track Court Judge K.N. Raveendra Babu will deliver the judgement on Monday.
The court recorded statements by 82 of the 154 witnesses. In all, 101 documents and 43 pieces of evidence were furnished against the accused. The court asked the accused 427 questions.
The prosecutor urged the court to consider the case “rarest of rare in the light of scientific and circumstantial evidence.”
Details of the autopsy furnished before the court had triggerred a controversy. The post-mortem report was submitted by Sherly Vasu, head of the Forensic Department of the Thrissur Government Medical College Hospital. Later, A.K. Unmesh, Associate Professor with the college, claimed he had conducted the autopsy and that remarks were added to the observations recorded by him. The controversy prompted the State government to appoint a high-level committee to look into the issue.
The prosecution furnished before the court documents, including copies of the post-mortem assignment register, to state that Dr. Sherly Vasu solely held the right to conduct the autopsy and other doctors could only have assisted her.
Statements by Mr. Joby Scaria, Mr. Tony Devassia and Mr. Abdul Shukur and the local people who claimed to have seen the accused near the Vallathol Nagar bus stop marked the turning points in the investigation of the case. The police also tracked the 23-year-old's cell phone that the accused had allegedly sold to Manikkan of Wayanad. Mr. Manikkan allegedly sold the cell-phone later to Baby Varghese of Wayanad.
While she was travelling on the train, the 23-year-old had reportedly talked to her mother on the cell phone and told her she was ravenously hungry. Her mother bought biriyani for her daughter and waited for her.
As the train hurtled through the night, the man who was supposed to meet her family the next day and ask them her hand in marriage too talked to her on the cell phone.
“See you tomorrow,” she told him before hanging up, her voice filled with excitement.
Keywords: rape case