Thiruvananthapuram: The brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman at Perumbavoor is becoming campaign material for the May 16 Assembly polls with both ruling UDF and rival LDF trading charges over the issue of safety of women in Kerala.
Criticism against police for the way it handled the case and alleged failure of government machinery in nabbing the culprits even a week after the incident has apparently pushed the Congress-led UDF government to a corner.
The woman, a law student who hailed from a poor family, was allegedly subjected to rape and brutal assault using sharp edged weapons before being murdered at her house at nearby Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district on April 28. The incident had triggered widespread protests across the state.
The CPI(M)-led opposition has tried to corner the government over the fact that the incident came to the limelight only four days after the crime.
They have also alleged that police tried to cover up the incident in view of the elections and that the heinous crime was indication of collapse of the law and order situation under Congress rule.
However, government immediately announced a solatium of Rs 10 lakh to the victim's family and a job to her sister.
Putting up a brave face, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had yesterday said government was committed to ensuring the safety of women and would bring the culprits to justice at the earliest.
He cited the speedy probe and trial that took place in the case of the murder of Saumya, who was pushed out of a moving train and raped in Thrissur district a few years ago.
Chandy also said police in the state was very quick in solving some sensational murder cases and ensured maximum punishment to the culprits.
Referring to opposition criticism on police handling the Perumbavur rape case, he said it was a tragedy which should not have happened but no one should politicise the issue.
Both Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who came to visit the victim's ailing mother at a hospital, had to feel the heat of CPI(M) activists, who raised slogans against the government. Chennithala had to return without meeting the woman due to the protests.