Chen­nai techie burnt alive by her for­mer class­mate

Akash be­gan stalk­ing her af­ter she re­jected his pro­posal

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - R.Si­vara­man T.Mad­ha­van

A 21-year-old IT en­gi­neer was doused with fuel and burnt alive at her home in Adambakkam on Mon­day by her for­mer class­mate af­ter she re­port­edly re­jected his pro­posal of mar­riage. The vic­tim S. Ind­huja’s mother, Renuka, and sis­ter, Nivedha, who rushed to her res­cue, suf­fered se­vere burns.

Po­lice said M. Akash, 22, a res­i­dent of Velach­ery, had been Ind­huja’s class­mate in school. Akash, who dropped out of col­lege, had been pur­su­ing Ind­huja for a few years and had pro­posed to her re­cently. As she did not re­spond to his over­tures, he be­gan stalk­ing her.

On Mon­day night, he went to her apart­ment and pleaded that he be al­lowed to speak with her for a few min­utes. When he was let in, he again pro­posed to her. When Ind­huja turned him down, he doused her with fuel from a can he had brought with him, set her ablaze and waited till the flames en­gulfed her be­fore leav­ing. Neigh­bours, who heard the screams of the women rushed to their res­cue. How­ever, Ind­huja suc­cumbed to burns.

Charred footwear and a black­ened stair­case were all that re­mained, in­dica­tive of the grue­some in­ci­dent of Mon­day night. S. Ind­huja had been burnt alive by a class­mate re­port­edly be­cause she had spurned his pro­posal.

For res­i­dents of Divya Darshini Flats in Saraswathi Na­gar, Adambakkam, the first sign of trou­ble hap­pen­ing in their apart­ment was the screams they heard around 8-45 p.m. from the first floor flat. They were shocked to see flames and smoke pour­ing out from un­der the door to the house.

R. Ragu, D. Ila­yaraja and Ramkumar, all neigh­bours, sensed trou­ble and rushed to help. Speak­ing to The Hindu, Mr. Ragu said, “Ini­tially, we switched off power sup­ply think­ing the fire was due to an elec­tri­cal short-cir­cuit. We were un­able to breathe in­side the flat as the smoke was thick by then. Us­ing a mo­bile phone torch, we reached Ind­huja’s mother Renuka, 47, and her sis­ter Nivedha, 19, who was writhing in pain. Renuka was scream­ing, ask­ing us to res­cue her daugh­ter caught in­side a room.”

Mr. Ila­yaraja added: “The room was pitch dark and our foot hit some­thing. We found that there was a charred body on the ground. We brought all of them down and alerted the po­lice con­trol room and am­bu­lance ser­vice. The am­bu­lance staff told us Ind­huja was dead.”

What tran­spired at the house be­came ap­par­ent later. M. Akash and Ind­huja had known each other in school, and, of late, he claimed he was in love with her, though she seemed un­in­ter­ested. Re­cently, Ind­huja quit her job at a start-up and her par­ents were seek­ing grooms for her. When Akash heard of this, he started threat­en­ing her.

Po­lice sources said, on Mon­day night, when Ind­huja re­fused to re­spond to his calls, Akash went to her house. While the fam­ily ini­tially re­fused to open the door for him, they re­lented af­ter he pleaded that he only wanted to talk to her for a few min­utes. The ‘chat’ slowly turned into an ar­gu­ment and on be­ing shouted at by Ind­huja and her fam­ily, he stepped out and brought into the house a can con­tain­ing petrol that he had brought with him. He doused her, and him­self, with the fuel, but set only her on fire with his cig­a­rette lighter.

Ac­cord­ing to the fam­ily’s ac­count, he stood there un­til the flames en­gulfed her, and es­caped. He sped away on a bike, and the neigh­bours could not catch him though they scanned the area for him.

Ind­huja’s mother Renuka and Nivedha, who went to her res­cue, also suf­fered se­ri­ous burn in­juries. Renuka’s son, who is 16, was also there but was not af­fected. The two women were rushed to the Gov­ern­ment Kil­pauk Col­lege Hos­pi­tal. Po­lice be­lieve that the fuel used was kerosene or petrol, but rem­nants will be tested.

Ac­cused traced

A spe­cial po­lice team led by Adambakkam In­spec­tor Mu­rali launched a hunt for Akash across the city.

Af­ter his bike was spot­ted near Adambakkam bus stand, po­lice traced him to his grand­mother’s house in Karap­pakkam on Tues­day morn­ing.

Akash was booked for mur­der and at­tempt to mur­der and other re­lated of­fences. Dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it was found that he had left a farewell note to some of his friends and his fam­ily mem­bers. He ad­mit­ted that he had planned to com­mit sui­cide, but ran away af­ter he saw Ind­huja burn.

Akash was pro­duced be­fore Ju­di­cial Mag­is­trate, Alan­dur, A. Sul­tan Aribeen for re­mand. The mag­is­trate or­dered the ju­di­cial cus­tody of the ac­cused un­til Novem­ber 28. He was lodged in Cen­tral Prison, Puzhal.

AR­RANGE­MENT ■ SPE­CIAL

S. Ind­huja.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION: DEEPAK HARICHANDAN

Un­hurt, Akash leaves on his bike. Neigh­bours res­cue the vic­tim’s mother and sis­ter, who were in­jured

Af­ter a short con­ver­sa­tion, he douses Ind­huja and him­self with the in­flammable fluid, and trig­gers a fire with a lighter

Ind­huja’s mother Renuka is re­luc­tant to let him in but he man­ages to con­vince her and en­ters the house

Akash ar­rives with a 5-litre can of in­flammable fluid, which he keeps nearby. He knocks on the door

G. KRISHNASWAMY ■

Fa­tal fire: The cor­ri­dor out­side the house of S. Ind­huja, who was set on fire by M. Akash, in­set.

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