CHENNAI: Trysts with unfair snatching of lives is everyday work for police personnel. But even for them, it hits hard when it hits home, especially when the perpetrator was someone who was given chances to reform.
On Friday, as the mortal remains of M Sathyapriya and her father P Manikkam were laid outside their block in St Thomas Mount police quarters, the family members wailed over life’s cruel twists. Sathya’s father, Manikkam, a cab driver, is suspected to have taken his own life hours after learning of her daughter’s death.
On May 20, Chennai police had booked the girl’s stalker, D Sathish Kumar, for indecent behaviour in public place based on a complaint from M Ramalakshmi, the girl’s mother who is a head constable. The complaint was lodged after Sathish created a ruckus outside Sathya’s college in T Nagar. Ramalakshmi’s two sisters and brother, too, serve in the police department.
“We did not press on our complaints considering his future and his family’s reputation. Now, our girl is killed,” lamented Srinivasan, a policeman and her uncle.
Neighbours and family spoke of how the family had pinned hopes on Sathya, the eldest of the three daughters to share the family’s financial load, along with Ramalakshmi and Manikkam.
Sathya and Sathish were neighbours at the police quarters. After his father, Dhayalan, retired from the police, the family moved to a house just a few meters away from the quarters.
“Despite warnings from the girl’s family, he kept at it. Actually, it was a shock for us, as he was not someone who was violent or created any trouble ruckus in the neighbourhood,” said Azar, a resident who knew the accused. Satish, who is a school dropout, was described as a lazy person who took odd jobs now and then. “Even he has two sisters. We wonder what went into him to carry out such a cruel act,” said a woman in the police quarters.
As friends and family paid their final respects, men and women clad in Khaki shed tears, too. Earlier in the day, city police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal met the grieving family and offered his condolences – a gesture, while expected of the highest office, that also blurred the lines between him and his subordinate for a few moments.
“It’s not possible to meet you in person even when we come there (Commissioner’s office). Now, you’re here. Please do something and get my daughter back sir,” head constable Ramalakshmi wailed while falling at her boss’s feet. The Commissioner retracted in reflex. The city police chief spent about 20 minutes at the family’s apartment to express his support.
With the death of her daughter and husband within hours, Ramalakshmi who is already fighting cancer will have to take care of her two daughters, including a three-year-old, all alone. In the compound walls of the police quarters, there were condolence posters of two policemen who had died recently. In the coming days, similar posters of Sathyapriya and her father will join the walls.