Suryanelli rape focus back on top Congress leader

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Outraged AIDWA protesters clash with the police over the Suryanelli rape case

RAJYA SABHA Deputy Chairman and former Union minister PJ Kurien is under a cloud once again after the Supreme Court on 31 January ordered the Kerala High Court to conduct a retrial of the Suryanelli rape case. The victim, a native of Suryanelli in Kerala’s Idukki district, was a teenager in 1996 when she was abducted and raped by 42 men over 40 days.

While the girl had complained that her tormentors included Kurien, who allegedly raped her at the Kumily Panchayat Guest House in Idukki district, police officials investigating the case did not include Kurien in the list of accused, citing insufficient evidence against him. Except Dharmarajan, a lawyer, the high court acquitted the rest of the accused.

The victim had also filed a private complaint at Peermade First Class Judicial Magistrate Court in Idukki to name Kurien as an accused. However, the Supreme Court had discharged Kurien in the case in 2007.

Now, 17 years after the trauma, in a letter written to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the victim has asked for a reinvestigation into Kurien’s role in the case. The victim has alleged that the apex court had earlier discharged Kurien without hearing her, and she suspects the police had helped him to get away.

“There will be a fresh hearing in the Suryanelli case, not a retrial,” a senior advocate in the Kerala High Court, A Jayashanker, told TEHELKA. “The registrar of the high court will summon all the accused in the case, who have to appear before the Division Bench and apply for bail. If any of the accused fails to show up, fresh warrants would be issued against them. But the high court may fail to complete all these procedures within six months — the time-frame set by the apex court.”

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police has already started informal investigations through its intelligence wing to locate all the accused in the case. “Only six of them were identified and located. The others have shifted from the addresses recorded earlier,” says a senior police official.

In fact, Dharmarajan, the first accused, has been absconding after getting bail, and his family claims to have no knowledge of his whereabouts since 2005. Dharmarajan was an advocate in Kottayam district when he was accused in the Suryanelli case. He belongs to a family of lawyers; his father was an advocate and his brother is now a district judge in Kerala.

Talking to the media in Thiruvananthapuram, Kurien called the issue a malicious campaign of political victimisation led by the Opposition, and alleged the media was being unfair to him. “I was cleared by three different police investigation teams, and the apex court too exonerated me. Even in the private complaint filed by the victim, the high court discharged me. In the eyes of God also, I have done no wrong.”

But Kurien got a major jolt in the case after two key witnesses backtracked from their earlier statements. Siby Mathews, then DIG (Crime) who led the probe into the rape case in 1996, had exonerated Kurien based on the statements given by Annamma Idikula of Tiruvalla town in Pathanamthitta district and Rajan Muleveettil, a local BJP leader who had said he met Kurien in Tiruvalla at 7 pm on 19 February 1996. Idikula had earlier said Kurien was at her place from 4 pm to 8 pm that day, while the victim alleged that Kurien raped her at the Kumily Panchayat guesthouse between 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm. In his report, Mathews had concluded that Kurien could not have been at Kumily, 114 km from Tiruvalla, at 6.30 pm.

Now, Idikula has told the media that though Kurien had reached her house at 4 pm, he left within 30-40 minutes. Kurien dismissed her new statement as “loss of memory due to old age”. Muleveettil, too, has changed his statement, saying he did not meet Kurien at 7 pm.

With the alibis falling apart, Kurien is heading for serious trouble. Along with the Opposition Left Democratic Front, the BJP has demanded reinvestigation of Kurien’s involvement. V Muraleedharan, state president of the BJP, told TEHELKA that Kurien should step down as the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman to allow fair investigation in the case.

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Bureau Chief, South

Jeemon Jacob has been a journalist for 26 years both in print and television, as of 2011. He was a Reuters Fellow and spent nine months in Oxford University as visiting scholar in 1994-95. He has headed the political bureau in New Delhi of the Rashtra Deepika group of publications and later joined News Express in Brunei Darussalam as Features Editor. He won the Statesman award for rural reporting in 1987 for his seven articles that exposed a brown sugar racket in Kumily, Kerala.

In 1990, he won the state award for best reporting and in 1992, his article on social alienation of people with HIV/AIDS won the prestigious PUCL Award for human rights reporting in 1992. Jeemon is a graduate in English Literature and Journalism and has exposed the corruption behind the DMK government’s allotting prime land to high court judges, senior civil servants, and the kith and kin of politicians under the government’s discretionary quota. He is based in Thiruvananthapuram.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The congress party in kerala which is trying it’s best to protect kurien and another minister kunjalikkutty of muslim league who is also an accused in a similar sex offence is deteriorating itself in the eyes of all sensible beings.
    The ill fated girl who was in her 9th grade when the incident occured 17 years ago is stead fast in her accusation of kurien. Now with the disclosure of one of the top police officer in the investigation team , Mr.Joshua that the then chief of the investigation team Sibi Mathew IPS himself manipulated all evidences to save kurien.
    It is an unfortunate state of stinky politics that EK Nayanar the then CPM chief minister himself directed sibi to exonerate kurien. KeralaCPI(M) which is keen in amassing wealth at whatever cost,might have got it’s due share at that time. The same government allegedly saved Mr.Kunjalikkutty of muslim league in a similar case after getting 1 crore from him. That story is also on the move in Kerala now

    The girl 17 years back disclosed to the police and the media that ” he despite of my pleadings, raped me holding my throat”. Kerala still remember this man calling the girl “prostitute” at that time. Kerala knows the plight of that girl and her ill fated family. If she was a prostitute she would have amassed wealth through these years, she being a beautiful girl. She and her sister are still unmarried and their family living out of the salary of the girl. Still the inhuman politicians on the label of congress tried to harass the girl so that she will stop pointing finger at the “professor”

    A man ,who was also a “professor” , who raped a small 9th grade student, now wiithout any shame acting innocence before media.

    kurien never faced judicial probe. He with the help of KG Balakrishnan the most corrupt Chief Justice of India (who was actually a discovery of late K.Karunakaran and propped by him to the post) escaped judicial process. At that time itself constitutional experts and lawyers questioned the sanctity of the judgement absolving mr. kurien

    The present congress led government in kerala tried it’s best to harass the girl, implicating her in false allegations with the aim of throwing out of the government job ,LDF government had given her.

    It will be the greatest shame in the history of India,after the assassination of Mahatma, if this pervert will chair Rajya Sabha ,when a bill aimed at preventing atrocities on women is introduced in the sabha. India will be discredited before the closely watching international community.

    Kurien is the close aid of sri AK Antony and it is clear that congress will try it’s level best to save kurien

    But congress and Soniya should understand that the world is watching and at a time when the whole country is alert on issue of sexual crimes, it will be disastrous if they tried to save a pervert who raped a minor girl, who repeatedly pleaded for mercy in front of him.
    Remember that even animals won;t sexually assault minors.

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