Barely days after the kidnap and murder of two young siblings, Muskan(9) and Rithik(7) had rocked the state, the main accused Mohan alias Mohanraj alias Mohanakrishnan (27), was shot dead by the police in an encounter in Coimbatore around 5:30 am on Tuesday.
It may be noted that various associations in the city including actor Vijay had demanded that the accused to be hanged in public.
According to police, Mohanraj was being taken to the scene of the crime,around 5.30 a.m for making them identify the places where the accused had committed the offence of sexual assault, murder and drowning. When the vehicle was crossing the Vellalore compost yard of the corporation on the Podanur – Vellalore road, the accused Mohanraj reportedly snatched a revolver and opened fire,while trying to escape.
Immediately, Inspector Annadurai is said to have opened fire in self-defence and two bullets hit the head of the accused while one went into the chest killing the accused on the spot. Two police sub-inspectors sustained bullet injuries in the encounter.
“He died when we opened fire in self defence. Both Sub Inspectors with bullet injuries are in the ICU,” said Dr Sylendra Babu, Commisioner of Police, Coimbatore.
On October 29, Mohanraj tricked the children and their grandmother who had accompanied them to the bus stop, claiming that he was asked to pick up the school students in the absence of the regular person. As he had worked as school driver earlier, they did not find anything amiss.
But not finding the children at the regular spot, the real driver contacted the children’s father Ranjit Kumar, a textile merchant in the city. Being outstation, he contacted his wife Sangeeta to check.
Finding their plan go awry, the driver duo allegedly murdered the children by pushing them into a water canal near Coimbatore, according to police. Their bodies were later fished out from the waterway. The girl’s post-mortem report revealed that she had also been sexually assaulted before the murder.
The killings had created an instant outrage among the society, with almost all members seeking nothing less than death penalty for the accused – but by way of legal, judicial retribution and not extra-judicial encounter. Even though the western city has had its share of troubles over the past, this is the first such killing in Coimbatore.
The public in Coimbatore city said, “Today is our Deepavali as the police have killed the Narakasuran (Mohanraj). They have given the right punishment to the accused, who kidnapped the 9 year-old girl Muskan, rapped her and killed her along with her brother Rithik (7).”
The parents of the murdered children said they had not celebrated Deepavali last week. But today the killing of Mohanraj by the police made them celebrate the festival.
However Activists say his killing could be a fake encounter to assuage public anger and pre-empt the opposition AIADMK’s plan to make it an issue in the assembly.
“The police had taken him for re-construction early in the morning around 5: 30 am. They could have taken during the day. And if he had really opened fire at the police why did they not restrain him in many ways than killing him?” questioned Geeta Ramaseshan, Activist.
Given that the killings caused so much anger, public sentiment may be in favour of the police, but they could still face tough questions in the court of law.