Coming out of coma after 56 days, 10-year-old identifies suspect by sign language.
A 10-year-old girl, who was an eyewitness to her mother’s murder five months ago, has helped the police arrest the suspected killer, despite her limitations.
Vaibhavi, who herself battled for life for months following the murderous assault on her, identified the suspected murderer by sign language.
Following this, the City Crime Branch (CCB) of Mysore police, who were investigating the murder of Padma (40) at her home in Siddalingapura in January, arrested Ravi, a 27-year-old man from the same village, on Wednesday. The investigators relied on the description given by Vaibhavi, which was pieced together by experts.
Vaibhavi, who regained consciousness a few months ago, had identified the prime suspect as Ravi, a goods autorickshaw driver. Ravi used to run errands for Padma who ran a tea shop in front of her house. Padma would take Ravi’s help to buy provisions for her shop. But he often kept money given by Padma, without bringing her the provisions. He owed her Rs 6,000.
A day before the murder, on January 23, Padma and Ravi had quarreled over the money, and the former got furious. Ravi had gone to her home around 1.30 am, telling her he wanted to settle the dues.
An unsuspecting Padma allowed him in, only to fall victim to a brutal attack. Ravi hit her on the head with an iron rod, killing her instantly. Vaibhavi, who had just woken up, pleaded with Ravi to spare her. But he attacked her too with a sharp weapon, leaving her in a pool of blood.
Ravi took to heels after he was convinced that Vaibhavi was dead. But when the police reached the spot, she was still breathing, and was then taken to the Columbia Asia Hospital in the city. Her right side was paralysed and she underwent surgery, Police Commissioner M A Saleem told reporters. If not for the doctors who gave Vaibhavi a new lease of life, the suspect would have gone scot-free, he added.
Vaibhavi remained in coma for almost 56 days. Owing to the paralysis, she had lost her speech besides mobility in the right hand and leg. Experts at the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, and the Government School for Deaf and Dumb helped her cope with the difficulties. Reading her signs, they managed to reconstruct the entire incident, and helped the police record her statement.
Apart from the corroborative evidence gathered from the spot, Vaibhavi identified the suspect, raising her thumb up.
The police commissioner said collective efforts helped in solving the murder mystery. Revenue and Mysore District In-charge Minister V Sreenivas Prasad contributed Rs two lakh, out of the total medical expenses of Rs 10 lakh.
The victim’s elder brother and a junior engineer at the Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company (Cesc) thanked the police and the experts at the AIISH and the Government School for Deaf and Dumb. Vaibhavi is undergoing speech therapy at the AIISH. Her brother Darshan is studying diploma at Srimath Polytechnic.