Security was strengthened at the Sri Lankan Refugee Camp in N.Mettupatti as tension prevailed over the murder of six-year-old Sirija alias Srinidhi.
According to police sources, the girl was raped before being killed. “The victim’s naked body was found in a cement pipe under the culvert on Tiruchi Road, about a kilometre from the camp, during the late hours of Sunday. The body had a deep slit on the throat and injuries on the arms. She could have been murdered elsewhere as there were no bloodstains in or near the pipe,” a police officer said.
Her mother Jayaseeli (38) said around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sirija, the second of her three children, went out to the open ground near the camp to answer nature’s call. “We searched for her from 4 p.m. but could find only her body,” said the inconsolable mother.
N. Sivakumar (14) and his friend Dhayalan (11) said that they were playing cricket when they saw the girl come near the play area. “We asked her to go to a safer place as she could be hit by the ball. She immediately left the place,” they added. People in the camp wore a worried look and many of them did not go to work on Monday. “Sirija was liked by all for her smart talk and approach and it came as a shock when we found her dead”, said Saroja (46), a neighbour. According to her, it was the first such incident in the 20-year-old camp.
N. Navamani (27), another neighbour, said that most parents were daily wagers. “They usually go to the market in Valayapatti, about five km from the camp, on Sunday afternoons for their weekly purchase. The culprit involved in the cruel act could have taken advantage of this time to commit the crime”, she said.
Superintendent of Police (SP) M. Sathiya Priya said three special teams were formed under Additional Superintendent of Police G. Subbulakshmi and two Deputy Superintendents of Police to nab the culprit. “We are checking all the men in the camp. Search is on for her clothes as it could help in the investigation”, the SP said and added that the body was taken to the Namakkal Government Hospital on Sunday night and shifted to the Salem GH for post-mortem examination.
Meanwhile, people in the camp grew suspicious of a 29-year-old refugee and beat him up severely as he reportedly told campers that the girl could not be found in a particular direction. But the body was found from the direction he came. People said that he was known for stealing clothes of adolescent girls and was warned in the past,” police said. He was admitted to Namakkal General Hospital. (The Hindu)