The death of a young woman in Kochi and the subsequent police investigation have kicked up a row, with allegations of police inaction reaching the Assembly and the Chief Minister announcing the transfer of the probe to the Crime Branch. The body of Mishel Shaji (18), a student of chartered accountancy, was found in the backwaters of Kochi on March 6, a day after she was reported missing. Based on the post-mortem report, police were considering closing the case as an incident of drowning. However, Mishel’s family insisted she died under mysterious circumstances.
Watch Video: Kochi: Protestors Demand Probe Into CA Student’s Mysterious Death
On Monday, the police arrested an alleged stalker, Cronin Alexander Baby (27), on charges of abetting suicide. Cronin is a distant relative of Mishel. Kochi city police assistant commissioner K Lalji said Cronin knew Shaji for two years and had been stalking her. After she pulled out from their friendship, Cronin allegedly threatened and physically assaulted her. In the days leading to her death, Cronin allegedly pestered her with calls and messages. One of Mishel’s friends has also given a statement against Cronin, said the officer.
“We want to know what happened to our daughter. A bold woman, Mishel would not end her life,’’ her father Shaji Varghese said. In the meantime, an online campaign, “Justice for Mishel”, saw support pouring in. The case came up in the Assembly on Monday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the Crime Branch would probe Mishel’s death, even as the Congress-led UDF opposition staged a walkout alleging police inaction.
Mishel went to a church on the evening of March 5. When she did not return to her hostel, her parents along with hostel authorities registered a complaint at a police station that night. The cops allegedly refused the request to trace the girl’s phone location. “If the police had tracked Mishel’s mobile phone location that evening, she could have been saved. Police registered the case the next day,” Shaji said.
The police refuted the allegation. “They came early morning on March 6. We alerted the entire force in the city,’’ a police officer said.