Kerala shocker: Missing 5-year-old girl’s body found; Bihar man held for sexual assault, murder

'Dear child, we are sorry,' Kerala police posted on their Facebook page, after the body of the girl was recovered.

BySreerag PS

Published Jul 29, 2023 | 6:17 PMUpdatedJul 29, 2023 | 8:11 PM

Police said Asafak Alam confessed to the crime. (Supplied)

Police officers checked an abandoned sack at the Aluva market along the Periyar river and realised that their prolonged search for a missing five-year-old girl had come to an abrupt end on Saturday, 29 July.

After finding the body of the little girl, the police arrested Asfaq Alam, a native of Bihar working in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. He has confessed to the crime, the police said.

The girl was sexually assaulted and strangulated to death, a senior police officer told South First. She had been missing since 3 pm on Friday, 28 July, and the police were informed at 7 pm.

The police examined CCTV footage from the area where the child was last seen. She was seen with Alam, who was staying in a room on the first floor of the building where the girl’s family — also from Bihar— lived near Garage Junction.

Also read: Woman with friend in Bengaluru park kidnapped, gang-raped

Strangulated to death

“An FIR was registered at 8 pm and within an hour, we found the accused. He was heavily drunk and it was difficult to gather information from him,” Ernakulam Rural SP Vivek Kumar told reporters.

Investigators interrogated Alam through the night and he confessed to the crime on Saturday morning, the officer said.

Meanwhile, the news of the missing child was circulated on social media along with a CCTV visual. Residents informed the police on Saturday that they had seen the child with Alam near the market area. The investigators reached the spot, searched the area along with the locals, and found the girl’s body.

People said the area behind the market was a haven for anti-social elements, who indulged in alcohol and drug abuse.

The initial FIR mentioned it as a case of kidnap.

“Yes, the police have invoked POCSO as penetrative sexual assault was involved. The murder was by strangulation,” the officer responded to a specific question by South First.

Section 3 of the POCSO Act deals with penetrative sexual assault.

Also read: A decade later, Karnataka girl’s rape and murder remains a mystery

Facebook helps in probe

A local trade union worker told the media that he had seen Alam with the child on Friday.

“I enquired him about the girl. He said she was his child and that he was going behind the market area to consume alcohol. However, when I saw the CCTV visuals of the missing child and Alam on social media today morning, I informed the police,” he said.

The witness said the child was enjoying candy when he saw her. Three other unidentified men were following Alam and the girl, he added.

“When I saw the news of the missing child on Facebook, I realised that I had seen him yesterday. I contacted the police station at 8.30 am today (Saturday) and alerted them. They checked the CCTV footage in the area and found the child and the man in the visuals,” he told reporters in Kochi.

‘Dear child, we are sorry’, says Kerala Police

The body was sent to the Kalamassery Medical College for a post-mortem examination.

The police have formed a special investigation team under Aluva DySP Vivek Kumar to further probe the case. They would also look into the possible involvement of more men.

The incident has left the state numb with shock.

“Dear child, we are sorry,” the Kerala police posted on their Facebook page. The post further added that efforts to reunite her with parents had failed.

Also read: Cops fumble in dark after Kalaburagi minor raped, murdered

Crime against children should end: Minister

Minister for Health and Woman and Child Development Veena George expressed grief over the incident. She added that crime against children would be stopped.

“When a baby is born, the child is the society’s asset as well as of the nation. It is the society’s responsibility to protect children. Ending crimes against children is of utmost importance. I join the extreme grief of her family. The government will stand by the family,” she told reporters.

George added that she was awaiting further details from the police.

(With PTI inputs)