India: A cold-blooded murder at Chennai railway station. Is Chennai unsafe for women?

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Unfortunately, one gets the impression if any elected government rules India and its regional states as crimes keep rising. Women, the weaker section, are the target in recent years. If India is unsafe even for Indians themselves- what about foreigners?

A 24-year-old woman employee of Infosys S. Swathi was hacked to death by a hitherto unidentified young man in Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai city in public view on June 24 morning between 6.45 and 7 00 am.

According to eyewitnesses, Swathi was waiting on Platform No. 2 to take a Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu EMU local train when a youth approached her and began talking to her. After a wordy altercation, the youth pulled out a sickle from his backpack and hacked Swathi who was waiting near a PCO booth, which at the time of the incident was yet to open for business. “We could not see anything further as a huge crowd gathered around the woman. Soon after the attack the man fled the spot,” said a shop keeper at the station.

According to police, the victim Swathi worked in Infosys and was a resident of South Gangai Amman Koil Street, Choolaimedu. She was waiting at platform number 2 of the railway station to board a train to work. The deceased was identified as Swathi (24), who was living with her family in Jaag Flats, South Gangai Amman Koil I street. As usual, Swathi’s father Santhana Gopalakrishnan dropped her at the station at 6.40 am. According to the police, Swathi was the second daughter of Santhana Gopalakrishnan, a retired central government employee. After finishing her engineering degree at Sairam Engineering College, she was placed in Infosys in Mahindra City.

In what is suspected to be a crime of passion involving a stalker, a 24-year-old woman software-professional was brutally murdered in full public view on the platform of the Nungambakkam suburban railway station minutes before her EMU arrived. The suburban was on time at 6.46 am and left a minute later, without her.

After committing the murder, the youth fled by foot along the tracks. None tried to stop him. A shopkeeper, who wished not to be identified, said that all that they heard was a loud cry from a woman and a group of commuters gathered around while she died of profuse bleeding. “We ran to the spot, and found the woman dead already. We alerted the cops and continued with our business,” he said.

The Egmore Government Railway Police (GRP), who have jurisdiction over the railway stations arrived at the spot a few minutes later and began their investigation. They alerted the techie’s father and relatives flocked to the railway station where the body remained on the platform for more than three hours. The railway police have registered a case and are investigating.

Even as rest of the Chennai was stirring awake on Friday morning, the Nungambakkam railway station witnessed a ghastly murder of a techie in broad daylight. As the news of the murder spread, a curious crowd of autorickshaw drivers and others took efforts to take a sneak peek into the crime scene while the GRP personnel made all efforts to preserve the evidence.

The body was then moved to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital for a post-mortem, and was handed over to the family after the procedure. The irate family, which chased away journalists from the residential complex earlier in the day, appealed later to the police through the media to expedite their procedures since they being Iyengars had more rituals to perform.

The youth was clearly privy to the routine of the deceased, including the minute details of the train that she would take and the spot on the platform at which she would wait for the train. GRP sources said they could do little about regular platform patrols since the entire operations of the GRP were run with a skeletal strength. Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim and her assailant had a window of only 6 minutes to settle whatever relationship issue was brewing between them.

Swathi’s close relatives were furious that the media wrongly blasted the news that the murder took place due to a love affair. K. Govindharajan, Swathi’s paternal uncle, said there were no deterrents to the crime. “The station was not under CCTV surveillance and the cops are on a wild-goose chase to nab the culprit. There were no cops present when the crime took place,” he said.

Till late into the night, the police had no clue why she was hacked, though they claim they had narrowed down on the suspect thanks to CCTV grabs of a young man walking with a backpack. CCTV grab of the suspect fleeing from the scene was released by GRP and the cops requested the public to contact them on 1512, a toll free number, if they had anything to throw light on the murder.

Said an eyewitness, “On Friday, there were not many people in the station. A lean-looking man, suspected to be in his late twenties, wearing a light checked shirt and dark trousers, walked towards her and without any warning began to hack her with an aruval (billhook). He struck her four times, and she fell down bleeding.” The accused then ran along the tracks towards Railway Border Road and escaped.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu condoled the death of a 24-year-old woman IT professional, who was found murdered at the railway station, and directed the railway officials to take up the matter with Tamil Nadu government for arresting the culprit. “Directed Member (Staff) Rly. Board 2 provide all help, tk up da issue with State Govt fr taking immediate appropriate action 2 book da culprit (sic),” he said in a tweet. The Government Railway Police has formed special teams to nab the accused. “We are checking her cell phone records. We have clues and we hope the culprit will be arrested at the earliest. The CCTV footage of the suspect has also been obtained,” said a senior GRP officer. In another tweet, the Railway Minister wrote, “My deep condolences on the tragic incident at Chennai.”

Black Friday

It was a bloody Friday for women in the city, as news emerged of the cold blooded murder of five women — four of them under 30 years of age. While S. Swathi, a 24-year-old Infosys employee, was hacked to death as she sat waiting for a train at the Nungambakkam railway station, the decaying corpses of a mother and her three teenaged daughters were discovered in a house in Royapettah, right behind the new police station building.

Angry residents took to social media to vent their ire at the establishment, at the visible lack of policing and the brazen nature of the violent crimes against women. Reacting to the murders, Sudha Ramalingam, a senior advocate said, “Whether at home or outside, women are vulnerable, even helpless. It is high time we began learning martial arts for self defence.”

S. Swathi, who was killed at the Nungambakkam Railway Station on Friday, was a soft-spoken person, according to her kith and kin. Having completed B.E. in Computer Science from Dhanalakshmi College of Engineering, Sriperumbudur in neighbouring Kancheepuram district, in 2014, she did a course in Oracle in Anna University the same year. She was placed in Infosys and underwent training in Mysore until November 2014. She joined the company as a System Engineer in December 2014 and was working in the same facility located in Mahindra World City, Chengalpattu, until Friday morning.

Swathi is the younger daughter of Santhana Gopalakrishnan who retired from ESIC recently. Swathi was not married while her elder sister is married. Her friend Sidhu, who was waiting at the morgue, said that he had got acquainted with her during the course at the varsity. “She is good-natured girl, and a friendly one. She was always nice to everyone. She would not interact much with strangers,” he said. He was upset that her body was kept in the railway station as an exhibit for at least three hours. Swathi’s mobile phone is believed to have been taken away by the assailant while her jewels remained intact on her body.

The investigation into the killing of 24-year-old software engineer S Swathi at the Nungambakkam Railway Station on Friday last has been transferred to the Chennai city police. Public Prosecutor Shanmugavelayutham on Monday informed the Madras High Court that the probe will be conducted by a special city police team headed by Nungambakkam Assistant Commissioner of Police K.P.S. Devaraj. The investigation would be monitored by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Triplicane, and the cyber crime department and the CB-CID would assist the investigation, he said.

Earlier in the day, a Bench of Justices S. Nagamuthu and V. Bharadhidasan sought the Public Prosecutor to clarify whether there was any lack of coordination between the city police and the railway police in probing the case. Reacting to the alleged statement made by the Chennai Commissioner of Police, T.K. Rajendran, as published in an English daily, that railway stations were out of the jurisdiction of the city police, and he had offered help to the railway police in investigating the murder, the Bench suo motu summoned the Public Prosecutor and sought the clarification.

Later, the Bench pointed out that there was no progress in the investigation even after three days of the crime. “We only express our concern. Justice must be ensured to the family. From media reports it appeared that there was rift between railway and city police,” it said. The Public prosecutor denied the allegation. He submitted that 25 police personnel were working to crack the case.

The judges noted that the court is satisfied as the case has been transferred to the city police. They said, “We will be watching the progress of the probe for a couple of days. If we feel there is slackness, we will take suo motu proceedings after getting concurrence from the Chief Justice.” The Bench expressed concern at the way the woman’s body was handled. “For over two hours, Swathi’s body was left lying without even being covered. Even a dead person has got right to dignity under the Constitution. Even after death the girl’s dignity cannot be denied,” it said.

When the Prosecutor said steps have been taken to install CCTV cameras in all railway stations, the judges said, “To induce one’s thinking, we made one person to lay down her life.” Earlier in the day, the judges noted that the court has a social responsibility and it was not confined only to the cases before it, and referred to an incident of acid attack in Puducherry. The court wondered whether the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court are being implemented or not.


Atrocities and attacks on women take place at national level and in Indian capital women are attacked and killed. But the central police are not much bothered about that but target the ministers of Aam Admi party government of Delhi state which is denied the right to control police. . Central BJP government plays politics with AAP government because it lost power to the new party AAP.

Preplanned murder of women takes place all over India and police is unable to track the culprits even after years. Generally police look for bribery money from the public, even from affected persons, making crimes a regular problem.

Murders on running trains are not uncommon in Indian railway system. Women and even men are thrown out of running trains though most of these does not get reported to media.

To begin with it appears Indian police is not professionally trained to tackle serious cases like murders taking place without traces or clues. Unlike watchmen or security personnel- government or private- whose duty is limited to watch from their posts if any outsider enters the site or just sleep, police personnel is duty bound to take action on complaints so that crimes, cheating and frauds do not reoccur.   Hence the selectors and government should ensure the placement of right and intelligent persons are put on police duty.

Most police officers display extra arrogance in order to hide their weaknesses and inability to tract the crimes or frauds. Government is fully aware of such nefarious activities at police stations but do not punish the officals. In fact, government itself is responsible for the poor state of police affairs as it uses police for the personal and private needs to target the political opponents.

Generally, police personnel is selected without any intelligence tests or dealing with basis laws. . And once appointed, either properly or by bribery means, police is supposed to do exactly what government or intelligence people ask them to do. In fact, the police not even given chances to use their brains properly and as a result even common sense is missing in many investigations. People do not take any complaint seriously and do not register the complaints as per the rules. For instance, police station in Colachel, Kanyakumari district deliberately refuses to register FIR on a serious case of demolishing a house of and looting the belongings, including certificates, Passport, documents, etc. For nearly 5 years. It seems police is also involved in the ghastly demotion and loot. Even higher officals also do not take action; not even the Jayalalithaa government does anything about. It seems the government is only worried about Jaya’s illegal asset case pending for final judgment.

The problem with police is they are corrupt, with a very few exceptions. Police therefore do not initiate action without their palms are greased by those who come to police station with a complaint. So much so poor and common peole are denied justice by the police and they are unable to approach the courts for money cum delay problem.

Police is very slow and but that slowness kills the case, deliberately or otherwise. Today, police officers blame each other for the criminal activities taking place in Chennai and other major towns. Police neglect the cases, thereby allow more crimes. There are no CCTV surveillances at railway stations and bus stands/terminals. Even local police stations should be upgraded to enable the personnel to undertake enquiries, investigations, at least preliminary level, before higher officals take over the cases.

In order to make the police system work at least satisfactorily, if not excellently as expected of them, government and people’s elected representatives should be serious and committed to people and their real causes and try to address them genuinely.

Government should ensure such crimes do not repeat.

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Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is an independent analyst; columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics; expert on Mideast affairs, chronicler of foreign occupations & freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.); Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, former university teacher and author of eBooks/books

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