The police team, which is investigating the drug-facilitated sexual assault case involving three minor tribal girls, on Monday launched a search for the main accused, who has reportedly fled to neighbouring Karnataka.
The accused, Muhammadali, 45, a native of Manjeri in Malappuram district, had allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl and molested two other girls, aged 12 and 13, last week, after they were forced to consume liquor and sedatives. When they became unconscious, the accused, a lorry driver, molested the younger girls, and later, raped the 16-year-old after tying her down with a rope, the police said.
The victims, residents of Eeechamanikkunnu Paniya colony, near Ambalavayal, were shifted to the tribal welfare hostel in Veliyambam the other day.
Police have been tracking the mobile phone records of Muhammadali, who has reportedly taken shelter in Karnataka, said V D Vijayan, DySP (SMS), Mananthavady, who is heading the investigation.“Two special squads have been formed to nab the accused and both the teams have already reached Karnataka.
Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson K C Rosakutty, who visited the colony on Monday, said the victims needed rape trauma counselling.
“The girls should be reassured of their safety as they are going through severe trauma. The counselling wing of the Women’s Commission will make immediate arrangements to help them recover from the shock and grief,” she said, adding that such atrocities against tribal women are rampant in the district.
“According to the police, the matter came to light when one of the girls informed her mother about the incident the following day. Earlier on Sunday, the police had arrested a tribal couple, Leela and Raghavan, who had allegedly helped the accused in committing the crime. The oldest victim is a distant relative of Leela, the police said.
Meanwhile, Ambalavayal grama panchayat member K Shameer accused the police of inaction which allowed Muhammadali to escape.