HIV+ woman ostracized by kin, brutalised at care home in Kerala

The incident came to light when the four accused persons sought anticipatory bail from the Kerala High Court.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

KOCHI : A 21-year-old woman, infected with HIV at birth, was ostracized by relatives and forced to stay in a care facility in Ernakulam, far away from home. However, her suffering worsened as the caregivers at the facility assaulted her brutally. They allegedly tied her to a window and beat her with a wooden log, causing multiple fractures, in November 2023. The incident came to light when the four accused persons sought anticipatory bail from the Kerala High Court.

The woman, who lost her parents during childhood, endured immense suffering due to social stigma attached to HIV. Subsequently, she was shifted to a care home run by an NGO. Though was sheltered at several care homes, the incident pertaining to the case happened at a facility in Ernakulam.

The Binanipuram police registered the case after the authorities at the hospital where the woman was taken for treatment informed them about her injuries. The police, which registered an FIR on January 5, booked the accused persons under section 341 (wrongful restraint), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons), and 326 read with section 34 (causing grievous hurt by multiple people) of the IPC.

In a statement recorded on July 3, 2024, a doctor who treated the woman confirmed that the fractures were due to assault and not other afflictions.

A consultant psychiatrist from the Government Mental Health Centre, Thrissur, also stated that the victim said she was brutally assaulted by the accused.

Court denies bail

The High Court denied anticipatory bail to the four accused citing the seriousness and gravity of the accusations.

High Court denies anticipatory bail to four accused

According to the police, the accused assaulted the woman as she went to stay at another care home for a brief period.

Justice C S Dias denied bail to the four accused — Bincy Suresh of Idukki, Rajesh K V of Chengamanadu, Bindu Kurian of Karumalloor and Saly of Kattappana — citing the seriousness and gravity of the accusations. Prima facie evidence establish the petitioners’ involvement, and the necessity for custodial interrogation and recovery of evidence, the court stated. C S Hrithwik, senior public prosecutor, submitted that the accused, who are responsible for serving society, have committed a severe offence by brutally assaulting an HIV-infected girl. The victim has no relatives or others to look after her.

The act of the accused was against the conscience of society, the public prosecutor said.

The accused argued that the victim is an HIV patient and has a very low immunity level. She is also suffering from osteoporosis. Due to her affliction, her bones are brittle, and she suffered fractures as a result, they stated.

The prosecutor submitted that there are incriminating materials to substantiate that the accused tied the victim to the window of the care home and brutally assaulted her.

K R Ranjith, public prosecutor, produced the discharge certificate issued by the hospital, which shows that the victim had suffered five fractures.

The prosecution alleged that the accused are treating their inmates in an inhuman manner.

The petitioners’ custodial interrogation is necessary and recovery is to be effected for the proper and full investigation of the crime, said the prosecutor.

The court accepted the prosecution argument and denied anticipatory bail to the accused.

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The New Indian Express