For her, life was a battle—fought daily—against threats and odds, ever since her father had abandoned the family when she was a child.
Rajeshwari was a pillar of strength for her children, Jisha and Deepa. The children seldom knew of the difficulties their mother went through in bringing them up.
Besides providing them education, Rajeshwari sent her children to dance classes, though making ends meet was a tough task for her.
Realising Jisha’s enthusiasm to become an advocate, the mother sent her to the Law College in Ernakulam. The family dreamt of seeing Jisha as an advocate and also to have a secure residence.
The realisation of both the dreams seemed near, and then, Jisha was murdered.
Here’s a brief timeline of the family’s concerns that often reached before the police:
Early 2004: Rajeshwari, a resident of Kuttikatt House on Vattolippadi canal bund, approaches the police with a complaint that some men have verbally abused her 16-year-old daughter Jisha.
September 2005: Rajeshwari lodges a similar complaint. An unidentified man has followed Jisha while she was returning home from the dance class.
Early 2007: Concerns over her daughter’s safety takes Rajeshwari to the police again. She complains to the panchayat member also.
Monsoon, 2008: Someone flashes a torch into the house on a rainy midnight. Jisha, too, accompanies her mother to the police station
Late 2009: Jisha, on board a bus, questions a stranger for misbehaving with her. The private bus crew and co-passengers rough him up and throw the man out of the vehicle.
Mid-2010: Rajeshwari reacts angrily to a man speaking over the mobile phone on the opposite bank of the canal near her house. He rides a bike away when neighbours gather at the scene.
2011: The relative of one of her dance students misbehaves with Jisha. The family accepts the apology of the student’s parents and drops the issue.
2012-2015: Jisha shifts to a hostel after joining Law College in Ernakulam
January-end, 2016: A migrant labourer, riding a motorcycle, knocks Rajeshwari down near her home. Jisha, responds to her mother’s cries and takes away the vehicle’s ignition key. A case of attempted murder is filed, and Rajeshwari undergoes treatment for about two months. Local politicians allegedly pressure the family to withdraw the case. The family receives threats too.
February-March: Realising that the stay in the canal puramboke is unsafe, Jisha applies for a house under a government scheme for SC/STs. She gets five cents and money to construct a house. They complete the foundation work and fix doorframes. The construction has been stalled since Vishu for want of funds.
11:30 pm, April 27: Jisha’s house stoned when they were sleeping. The mother and daughter check the surroundings and find none. An hour later, the house is again pelted with stones. The next morning, they find a beedi and lighter near the house.
5 pm, April 28: The time at which police suspect the murderer reached Jisha’s house. Neighbours overhears Jisha’s angry voice (Some say they heard her screams). Silence follows.
6 pm: A man, clad in yellow T-shirt and black trousers, leaves the house and crossed the canal, neighbours say.
7.45 pm: Rajeshwari returns home from work and finds Jisha’s body. Neighbours, who responded to her screams, inform the police.
April 29: Police complete the inquest and collection of forensic evidence around 11 pm. Body sent for a post-mortem examination. Despite Rajeshwari’s wish to cremate her daughter in the five cents allotted to them, her relatives lay Jisha to rest at a public crematorium.
April 30: Two days go by since the brutal murder and ineffective probe. Outside world is still unaware of the gruesome incident.
May 1: Jisha’s friends in Law College and teachers make public the news of the murder. Media draws similarities with the Delhi Nirbhaya case. The incident grabs national attention.