Displaying little emotion, the man who snuffed out the life of 23-year-old Vinodhini with a vicious acid attack stood barefooted with folded hands, as he heard the first prosecution witnesses testify against him on Monday.The trial in the acid attack case began at the Sessions Court here after the presiding judge rejected outright a plea for adjournment by defence counsel for Suresh Kumar (32) and heard the testimony of 10 witnesses in day-long proceedings that went on till dusk.
Vinodhini unwittingly became the symbol of continuing victimhood of women after nitric acid was hurled at her by a spurned pursuer in November last, while she was visiting home for Diwali.
She succumbed to irreversible damage three months later in February.
Turning down the plea for adjournment just minutes after the court convened, Sessions Judge Margaret Roselin cautioned the defence against trying to stall the trial even before it commenced. The defence sought more time for studying all the documents and also claimed that the accused suffered from frail health. The accused, Suresh Kumar (32) alias Appu, was secured within 24 hours of the incident and was in judicial custody until a Madras High Court Vacation Bench granted him bail in May. He was denied bail by the Sessions Court on an earlier occasion.
Taking into account the serious objections of Additional Public Prosecutor R.Vetriselvan, Judge Roselyn asked the defence to not make a mockery of a serious case, especially when prosecution witnesses were present.
Testifying as the first witness, Vinodhini’s 56-year-old father Jayabalan struggled to hold back his tears that kept streaming down his weathered face.
Narrating the incident, he said Suresh had vowed “not to let anyone have her after she turned him down.”
Vinodhini’s friend Padmanaban, who was present alongside Jayabalan and Vinodhini when the offence took place, also deposed. Both the witnesses had suffered spill-off burns from the acid hurled at Vinodhini.
Taking the stand as the third witness, Vinodhini’s mother Saraswathi testified amidst inconsolable sobs. The parents’ grief heightened at the sight of the material recovered at the crime scene — a tiny foldable mirror, kajal, handbag, and a purse — that was displayed on a table beside the witness stand. Among the 10 who testified was the man who sold acid to the accused. While the defence counsel did not cross-examine the prime witnesses, who included Vinodhini’s parents and her friend, he opted to cross-examine the other witnesses.
Keywords: acid attack case