The Ayesha Meera case has seen many twists and turns but none more confounding than last week’s revelation that “all material evidence” had been destroyed at the trial court. It means investigators are back to where they were when the B. Pharm student was brutally raped and murdered at a hostel in Vijayawada on 27 December 2007. One can only imagine what the girl’s parents are going through. At every turn since that day, their worst fears have been coming true. They had feared that the real culprits, allegedly including the relative of a minister in the then Rajasekhara Reddy government, were being protected.
Last year, the Hyderabad High Court in fact vindicated their stand. The court ruled that Satyam Babu, the man police claim is the murderer, was framed and falsely convicted. It had also directed the state government to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to reinvestigate the case and punish the officers responsible for subverting the probe. Ayesha’s parents were apprehensive that if the probe was conducted by the state police, it might be derailed yet again. Now, the revelation that material evidence was destroyed even when the High Court was hearing the appeal filed by Satyam Babu lends credence to their fears. The court has ordered an inquiry to find out who destroyed the evidence. In due course, they may be apprehended but what about the investigation?
Any hope of a fair probe by the state police has been dashed. The court has impleaded the CBI in the case, observing that the Central agency could be better equipped to deal with this. Nonetheless, instead of waiting for the court to decide on it, the Chandrababu Naidu government must hand over the case to the CBI. After all, it was Naidu who had doubted the probe in the aftermath of the girl’s death. The #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment is creating ripples across India but Ayesha is no longer alive to tell her story. It’s up to us to speak up for her and ensure justice and closure to her parents.