Thiruvalla stunned as youth set ablaze girl -- all over in 40 seconds

Thiruvalla stunned as youth set ablaze girl -- all over in 40 seconds
Forensic experts examine the crime spot near Chilanka Junction, Thiruvalla.

Thiruvalla: The town woke up to the news of a youth setting a young woman on fire after stabbing her yesterday morning. There were not many witnesses to the event that happened shortly after 9 am near the railway station.

Passersby noticed only when they saw a flare-up. The fire was doused with two buckets of water. As it went out, the girl fell on her back. She was rushed to a private hospital a kilometre away. The youth, who stood calm, was restrained by the crowd. The investigation began only after police arrived and took him to the station.

The young man named Ajin Reji Mathew, a Kumbanad native, planned to kill the 19-year-old and commit suicide as he feared she might leave him. He came to Thiruvalla on Tuesday with petrol, lighter and a rope in his bag, the police said.

We were in love since higher secondary school days, the 20-year-old assailant reportedly told the police.

The stab did not cause serious injury, but the fire did, said doctors. Half her body from head was severely burnt. All the hair was gone. Serious burn injuries were caused to face and neck. Kidneys could be affected because of the damage to muscles, they added.

The cops were astonished by Ajin’s calmness at the scene and later at station.

CCTV images

A CCTV camera in front of a toy store a few metres away across the road captured the incident. This gave the necessary proof to the police. They analysed it thoroughly. The 40-second event started at 9.11 am. The video gives a clear idea of what happened though vehicles passing by hinder continuos view.

There is a cycle shop, medical store and a tyre shop nearby. Only the tyre shop was open.

As it happened: Following the girl, the youth catches up and blocks her way and says something. The girl suddenly clutches her stomach (likely from the stab, since vehicles block this part). He opens bag and pours some liquid over her head and looks like lighting a fire. Girl falls back as her body catches fire. Passersby rush to douse fire with flex boards.

Though some saw two students walking away from Chilanka Junction, it did not seem out of the ordinary. The youth poured petrol and set her on fire in a flash. It was all over in 40 seconds.

Eyewitnesses say the youth hid the knife in his pocket.

The girl's burnt bag, a half-litre bottle, lighter and the flex board used to douse fire could be seen on the spot. The bag was half burned. Evidence from the crime scene was collected by forensic officer Leena B Nair, fingerprint experts A Shailaja Kumari, TK Sreeja and photographer Jayadeva Kumar.

The injured is a radiology student and a native of Ayiroor. She was on her way to class when the incident happened.