Court awards death penalty to killer of Kerala law student

Thiruvananthapuram: A youth from Assam, Ameerul Islam, who was convicted of the rape and gruesome murder of law student Jisha in April 2016, was on Thursday handed the death sentence by the Ernakulam Principal Sessions Court.

Ameerul is a migrant worker from Assam, and had been working in Kerala for a while. He broke into the victim’s dilapidated house at Perumbavur in the outskirts of Kochi, raped her and then hacked her multiple times before fleeing. He was later nabbed from Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu by the Kerala police.

On Wednesday, the court found him guilty of offences including rape, murder and wrongful confinement.

The case had attracted months of media attention in Kerala, and the delay in nabbing the culprit was a major image setback for the then United Democratic Front government of Oommen Chandy on the eve of the 2016 assembly election. In the event, the government was routed in the polls.

Ameerul was also fined Rs500,000 (Dh285,409) by the court under different counts.

Ameerul’s lawyer, B.A. Aloor criticised the verdict, saying lower courts in India “lacked backbone” and that they were afraid of the people and government.

The gruesome murder of the 30-year-old Dalit law student on April 28, 2016 had shocked the state. There were no eye witnesses in the case, and the culprit was identified with the help of DNA testing.

The state police was stretched to the limits in identifying and nabbing the culprit, and at one point scores of youth in the victim’s neighbourhood were questioned in connection with the case.

Jisha’s mother Rajeswari and family members were present in the court room to hear the verdict. Earlier, the court had used the help of an interpreter to get the views of Ameerul ahead of announcing the verdict.

When he was produced in court on Wednesday, Ameerul said he had not committed the crime and that he did not know who had done it.

It was Jisha’s mother Rajeswari who first came to know of the murder when she returned home from work on April 28, 2016 around 8.30pm. The family lived by the side of a drainage canal near Perumbavur.

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