Nehru Nagar residents live in fear after rape, murder of girl

Demand police to install  CCTV cameras, patrol area frequently

Fear continues to grip the residents of Nehru Nagar days after the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl from their locality. Around 3,000 residents from Nehru Nagar and nearby localities had participated in the victim’s funeral amid tight police bandobast on April 8.

The accused, Devendra Vadivel (35), is a resident of the area and had recently been released from prison after serving a seven-year sentence in a child abuse case. He is now in the Juhu police’s custody.

The victim went missing on the afternoon of April 4 after her mother sent her to buy some groceries when she returned home from school. The victim left still wearing her school uniform but never returned. Mr. Vadivel confessed that he had kidnapped the girl and killed her after sexually assaulting her. The accused said he took the body to a public toilet, opened the lid of a drain between two rows of toilet stalls, and dumped it there.

Savita Singh, a resident of Nehru Nagar and mother of two, said, “Before this incident, children used to return home after school by themselves. Now, we have to take a break from our work and pick them up from school. Thankfully, we work in nearby areas. But it won’t be practical in the long run. It is tiring to run around. We are helpless as the safety of our children is at stake.”

‘Spread awareness’

Another resident, on condition of anonymity, said, “The fear of something similar happening to our children keeps bothering us when we are at work. It will be helpful if the police could install CCTV cameras and patrol the area frequently.”

Manisha Devendra, a resident of the area, said members of child welfare organizations should be invited to visit the locality and take classes for residents on measures to ensure the safety of women and children. She said, “Education and awareness regarding child sexual abuse is the need of the hour. We cannot afford to wait until someone else falls prey to such crimes.”

Aarti Devendra, who lives in the locality, said that parents and teachers need to build a relationship with children and ensure that they inform them about any untoward incidents.

Mouni Devendra, the victim’s neighbor, said, “Only when the accused receives the harshest punishment will such incidents come to an end. No child deserves a death like this. We cannot label all men as evil, but we clearly need to be more vigilant. Instead of getting scared, people need to come together and act. The horrors of this tragic incident will continue to haunt the residents of Nehru Nagar. We won’t be at peace unless the accused is punished.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Shamsah Sonawalla said that the incident demands the attention of society. She said, “Group therapy will go a long way in helping the residents get rid of the fear this incident has instilled in them. Coming together and conducting discussions on the issue will help the residents come up with solutions to avoid the recurrence of such incidents. Men need to be sensitized, children need to be taught self-defense techniques and women need to engage in constant dialogue on the issue of child sexual abuse. The more people communicate with each other and talk about the issue, the easier it will be to put such fears to rest.”