Kochi: The Ernakulam South police have nabbed a young man who had allegedly doused two young women with petrol at Panampilli Nagar in the the heart of the city recently.
The accused Manu (24) of Poovathingal, Thachambara in Palakkad had escaped to Abu Dhabi after the crime, but was coerced into returning to Kerala and was picked up from Nedumbassery airport by the police.
The youth had reportedly carried out the attack on the girl who had spurned his advances and another young woman on March 14. The girl, a native of Ooty, and her friend were riding a scooter when Manu, who arrived on a bike, intercepted their two-wheeler and poured petrol over them with the intention of setting them on fire.
The panicked girls jumped out of their scooter and ran away from the spot. Manu had attacked the young woman who was studying in a private institution in Kochi. She was also working in a mall. The assailant's identity couldn't be ascertained then as he was wearing a helmet.
Manu had reached Kerala from Abu Dhabi with the intention of carrying out the crime without even informing his close friends. He landed in Thiruvananthapuram after failing to obtain a ticket to Bengaluru. He headed to Coimbatore, took a bike on rent and reached Kochi, where he checked in at a hotel in Chittoor Road. On the way from Coimbatore, he had purchased petrol in a bottle from Palakkad.
Though he followed the girl, he could not carry out his plan initially. However, on the fateful day, Manu succeeded in finding the woman at an isolated spot in Panampilli Nagar while she was returning from work. However, after his plan failed, the youth returned to his hotel room and stayed there that night. Without arousing anybody’s suspicion, he started for Coimbatore the next day and returned the bike. He then travelled to Bengaluru and took a flight to Dubai.
Victim's bid to cover up
The victim had told the police that she had entered into an argument with some youths at her house in the morning on the day of the crime, but she did not indicate that Manu was the culprit, even though she admitted that there existed some problems between them. The police zeroed in on Manu after a thorough probe.
During the early stages of the investigation, the police did not suspect Manu as he was abroad. As many as 200 persons were grilled, the phone records of 1,200 persons were examined and visuals from around 100 closed-circuit television cameras were examined. Clues from all these sources led to Manu, said Ernakulam city police commissioner S Surendran.
Bid to mislead police
According to the police, the accused had tried to lead them on to the wrong track by leaving a paper in which it was printed ‘Don’t play with us’ at the crime spot. This was an attempt to create an impression that several persons were involved in the attack, said the police. However, the police came to the conclusion that no gang was behind the incident.
Manu and the girl were in love since they were 15, said the police. This fact was known to relatives and friends. However, when the girl came to Kochi, she developed new friendships, which Manu detested. He asked her to avoid the new friends and marry him. Some weeks ago, he came to Kerala from Abu Dhabi and proposed to her. However, the girl turned him down.
An enraged Manu hatched the plan to attack her after this incident, said the police.
Police Commissioner buys ticket
The police identified Manu as the attacker, but they had a tough time bringing him to Kerala. Though the youth initially denied his involvement, he finally admitted to his role after the police showed him the evidence. Still, Manu remained in Abu Dhabi, saying that he had no money for the flight ticket. The police commissioner sent him the money and he booked the ticket twice, but cancelled the journey. Following which, the Kochi police contacted their counterparts in Abu Dhabi.
The employer in Abu Dhabi soon sacked Manu and he was forced to head to Kerala. The police also issued a look-out notice for him at the airports and took the youth into custody as soon as he landed at Nedumbassery airport on Tuesday morning.
Those who were part of the investigating team included Kochi city deputy police commissioner Dr Himendranath; Thrikkakkara SP Stewart Keeler; Special Branch SP S T Suresh Kumar; Ernakulam South CI Abhilash; SIs Santhosh, N S Roy, Vinoj; Shadow SI Jospeh Sajan; ASIs Vinayakan, Suresh, Madhusoodanan, Josy, Anil; SPOs Anil Kumar, Suresh, Hari, Dinil, Anil, Sunil; and Cyber Cell police officers Pramod, Delfin, Mathew and Ratheesh.