Crime Branch to probe death of CA student

A week after an 18-year-old chartered accountant student was found dead in the backwaters near the Ernakulam Wharf, the state government has decided to hand over the case over to the Crime Branch.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made the announcement in the Assembly on Monday, in response to a notice for an adjournment motion by the Opposition.

Based on a preliminary investigation, the police said Michelle Shaji Varghese, a native of Piravom in Ernakulam, had committed suicide but her family has countered the police version. She was living in a hostel in Kochi.

Michelle was last seen at the St Antony’s Shrine in Kaloor on March 5. Surveillance cameras have also confirmed her presence at the shrine in the evening. Her body was found the next day.

In Piravom, people have come together to form an action council demanding a more effective investigation. Support for the demand is also being mobilised through a social media campaign.

Michelle’s father, Shaji, alleged that policemen were non-committal when he approached them to file a missing-person complaint at the Ernakulam Central
Station.

The station officials allegedly refused to register the complaint and instead told the girl’s parents to return the next morning to meet the sub-inspector.

The police’s conclusion that she was upset over advances made by a stalker has been dismissed by the family.

Reports said a man from Piravom, employed in Chhattisgarh, has been summoned to Kochi and is being interrogated in connection with the case.

Anoop Jacob, MLA from Piravom, moved a notice for adjournment in the Assembly, criticised the police’s handling of the case.

“Even the CCTV footage from the shrine was sourced by the family, not the police,” Jacob said.

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