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Monday, July 27, 1998

Murder charges in eve-teasing case

CHENNAI, July 26: The Chennai police on Sunday arrested nine persons including eight Youth Congress volunteers in connection with the eve-teasing incident that claimed the life of 20-year-old Sarika Shah.

Six of those accused have been charged with murder.

Recounting the sequence of events that led to the arrests a week after the incident, Police Commissioner P Kalimuthu said the Youth Congress had held a meeting at Anand Theatre in the city on July 18. Two persons Sreedhar (22), a Presidency College student and Gurunathan (28), said to be aiming for a party post had organised the crowd for the meeting. About 25 autorickshaws were engaged by them from various parts of the city for the meeting.

After the meeting ended in the afternoon, the organisers dispersed to their respective areas. Around 12.45 pm, Sarika along with her friends Rusi, Madhavi and Kavitha were walking towards a juice bar when the occupants of one of the autos returning from the Youth Congress meeting, sprayed water on the girls.Suddenly the auto swerved to the left to avoid another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Twenty one-year-old Hari who was sitting on the edge of the seat on the left side, lost his balance and fell on Sarika as the meter rod which he was holding gave way. Under the impact, Sarika fell down hurting her head. The auto however sped away without waiting for Hari.

Immediately a TNEB worker, Nandan, caught Hari and began thrashing him but the 21-year-old escaped and hid in the bushes nearby, waiting for the commotion to die down.

Some time later, realising what had happened, two autos returned for Hari, picked him up and went away. The incident was reported to the traffic control room where it was booked as a traffic accident case. It was only on Tuesday that the news about the eve-teasing attempt broke out. Meanwhile, Sarika who had been in a coma passed away on Friday night.

The breakthrough came when police discovered that the two autos which had returned to pick up Hari displayed a Congressflag. This led to to information about the Congress meeting at Anand theatre and a search was launched for the organisers. From the organisers, the police learnt about the autos engaged for the meeting.

Four police teams led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Triplicane) P Balasubramanian and Assistant Commissioners of Police M C Sarangan and C Sridhar reconstructed the route which the auto was presumed to have taken. Within a day, police narrowed down the route to the Sembium, Purasawalkkam and Choolaimedu areas. Three more police teams were formed to coordinate with the first four teams to nab the culprits. These route teams were sent in different directions to gather more information about the autos.

During one such encounter, police got information from autorickshaw drivers about an auto involved in an accident. They later traced the vehicle to the Kannikapuram area. The next breakthrough came when an auto driver in Sembium area informed the police team that it was Murugan who had organised the crowdfor the meeting.

Murugan referred the teams to another organiser, Sreedhar, who gave them more leads about the accident. The police zeroed in on Hari on Saturday night and took him into custody. Later, Hari informed the police about the whereabouts of the auto and gave details about the other occupants. Two persons were caught hiding in a building in the area.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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