Why Jisha Is Not Just 'Kerala's Nirbhaya'

05/05/2016 5:19 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Indian protestors shout slogans during a demonstration against the rape and murder of a woman in Kochi on May 3, 2016. Indian police detained three people May 3 over the brutal rape and murder of a young student in the southern state of Kerala, in a case echoing the 2012 gang-rape of a Delhi woman that sparked mass protests. Police said the attack on the 30-year-old law student from the lowest Dalit caste was so vicious she was found lying dead in a pool of blood, her intestines hanging out. Her mother discovered her body at the family home in the southern state of Kerala. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: We are adding updates as this story develops.

NEW DELHI -- A crime of unimaginable horror was committed in Kerala on the evening of 28 April.

Jisha, a 30-year-old law student, was murdered, stabbed over and over again, and her intestines were pulled out. She may also have been raped, but the police is yet to confirm sexual violence. Rajeshwari, a daily wage labourer, found her daughter lying in a pool of blood, when she returned to their one-room house in the town of Perumbavoor, which is around 216 kilometers away from Thiruvananthapuram.

As word of the crime spread, Jisha was compared to Jyoti, the 23-year-old woman who was gangraped in a moving bus in Delhi in 2012. She was brutalized with an iron rod, her intestines were pulled out, and she was thrown naked from the bus. When words - written and spoken - failed to express the collective horror which her ordeal triggered, people took to the streets to express their outrage at just how vulnerable women are to sexual violence.

In Jisha's case, no one stirred for five days after the crime. The town of Perumbavoor did not witness protests for five days after the savage murder, with people coming out on the streets for the first time on Wednesday. The police cordoned off the crime scene and called in forensic experts to collect evidence, five days after the crime. And it was on the seventh day that Chief Minister Minister Oommen Chandy visited Rajeshwari in hospital.

READ: Here's How You Can Help The Family Of The Kerala Law Student Jisha Who Was Heinously Murdered

Why some crimes inflame passions, while others fade away as headlines, is not an exact science. But we have all moved on too quickly from Jisha, conveniently boxing her in with Jyoti, and reducing her ordeal to a "Nirbhaya" type case. It really isn't.

It is a perfectly planned brutal murder. The evidence received so far suggest that it was carried out by a single person.

Here is what you need to know about Jisha and her case.

Jisha, a Dalit woman, was a law student at Ernakulam Government Law College. Her classmates say that she was quite friendly when she joined college, talking about her family, and her dream of getting a job and taking care of her mother.

Jisha lived with her mother and her elder sister in a one-room house. Her father had left the family several years earlier, and her sister went to live with her husband's family after getting married.

Her friends said that Jisha withdrew after she started experiencing financial problems, which forced her to skip exams, drop classes, and eventually she stopped coming to college.

Rajeshwari struggled to support her family, and keep her daughter in law school. Reporters, who met her at Ward No. 5 at the Kuruppampady Taluk Hospital, gave a heartrending account of her speaking about her daughter as if she was still alive. "Can anybody tell me whether she has eaten?," she said.

Rajeshwari has told reporters that she and her daughter had a difficult relationship with their neighbors, who, she says, destroyed their water pipes, threw stones into their house, while men from the locality made sexual advances at Jisha.

Rajeshwari said that she had complained to the police about the harassment she and her daughter faced, but no action was taken.

Rajeshwari and her daughter believed that a tragedy was waiting to happen, Laila, Jisha's aunt, told The New Indian Express. "So, Rajeshwari bought a pen camera for the safety of Jisha. Whenever her mother went out Jisha would lock their house from both ends, and wore the pen camera," she said.

But their neighbors told TheNewsMinute that it was Rajeshwari who hurled stones at anyone who tried to speak to her, and that is why people didn't come to her aid when she was desperately trying to break down the door of her house on the night of the murder.

Chandy has offered Rajeshwari a government job and financial assistance of Rs. 10 lakh.

While confirming murder, the police said that rape could only be confirmed by autopsy reports. NDTV reported today that the latest police report before the court has included rape charges.

The police have ruled out gang rape, and confirmed that one man is the killer, according to TheNewsMinute. The autopsy report showed that 38 wounds were inflicted on Jisha. Her back was covered in bite marks.

Reports vary on how many men have been taken into custody for questioning. TheNewsMinute says four men have been detained. Tehelka reported that one can't be certain if the men being questioned are the culprits or the police is lashing out under public pressure.

The police have released a sketch of a suspect and said they were looking for a man seen leaving Jisha's home. "We can understand that people are very angry but we have very little evidence to find the accused," Additional Director General of Police K Padmakumar told Reuters. "We are doing our best."

On May 6, The Hindu reported that around 300 persons had been interrogated, and about 12 suspects were under police custody. "It is a perfectly planned brutal murder. The evidence received so far suggest that it was carried out by a single person," Padmakumar told the newspaper.

Jisha's neighbours have reportedly said that the police sketch looks like a friend of Jisha's sister's friend. TheNewsMinute reported that this friend, who is missing since the murder, is allegedly a drug dealer and involved in women trafficking.

A pair of chappals have also been recovered from the crime scene and sent for footprint analysis.

No arrests were made till May 7 which marked ten days since Jisha was killed.

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