Mishel, an 18-year-old chartered accountancy student, left her hostel in Kacheripady to attend the evening mass at Kaloor’s St Antony’s shrine on March 5 and was found dead in the Kochi lake near Thoppumpady the next day.

 

Mishel, a Piravom native, was staying in Kochi to prepare for her examinations. She was last seen leaving the church, and soon after her cell-phone was switched off near Kaloor.

 

 

Police version and autopsy report

 

The police have insisted that it’s a clear case of suicide even from the first day of the investigation and have so far stuck to their stance, despite all the uproar. The probe team have quoted the autopsy report to reinforce their stance. As revealed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the Assembly, the post-mortem report states “the victim died due to drowning”. The police says there has been nothing suspicious to suspect the involvement of another person in the death.

 

CCTV footage

 

Though the surveillance camera recordings didn’t have anything striking that could prove decisive to the investigation, it does show Mishel leaving the Kaloor church. And the following footage suggest that two youth had appeared to follow Mishel on a bike, though that remains an assumption at this point.

 

 

Family’s stance

 

The family continues to reject police's suicide theory and insists there was no reason for Mishel to even consider ending her life. Shaji, the victim’s father, claims they had spoken to her hours before she went missing, and that she had sounded completely fine and normal. Mishel’s relatives, who have seen the CCTV footage, also insist she did not look stressed out to back the suicide angle. They want the police to interrogate the ones who communicated with Mishel just before her phone went off. They are also suspicious of the two persons on a motorcycle seen near the church.

 

Crime Branch and arrest

 

After widespread uproar and accusations against the police accused of being callous, CM Pinarayi on Monday revealed that the case has been handed over to the Crime Branch. And the biggest development in the case came the same night as the police arrested Cronin Alexander Baby, a distant relative of the girl, on charges of abetment of suicide. The police said the youth has admitted that he was in a relationship with Mishel for around two years.

 


 

Troubled relationship

 

During the interrogation Cronin revealed that their relationship was going through a rough patch. The police said Cronin sent 57 text messages to Mishel on March 4 and 32 more on the day she went missing. He called her several times on both days. The police have also got a statement from a friend of Mishel, claiming that she saw Cronin hitting the girl once.

 

However, the arrest does not change the nature of death, as per the police. But they now believe that Mishel was undergoing severe trauma because of the relationship and that could have forced her to take the drastic step.