Kerala rape victim wants Cong leader probed again

A day after the Supreme Court set aside the Kerala High Court verdict acquitting 35 accused in the serial rape of a minor girl from Suryanelli in Kerala, the victim stuck to her stand that senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien was among those assaulted her.

In a letter to "the counsel appearing for the de-facto complainant/victim", the girl requested him to explore the possibility of filing a review petition in the Supreme Court against its earlier order which exonerated Kurien, by quashing the proceedings of a private complaint at a magistrate court in Idukki district in Kerala.

The letter, written on January 29, said that every investigating officer was told that Kurien had allegedly assaulted her along with others at a guest house in Kumali in Idukki. But after the probe they had not charge-sheeted him in the case and hence, the victim said, she had filed a private complaint at the judicial magistrate court at Peerumedu in Idukki.

After recording the statement of the victim, the court had issued summons to Kurien, who approached the high court seeking quashing of the proceedings. After the high court dismissed his petition, Kurian won a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court. She said that she was neither summoned by the Supreme Court nor given a chance to present her case. Under pressure, police officers had tried to save Kurien, she alleged.

Kurien said the court had found that he was innocent. "Senior police officials had probed the case several times during the previous regimes of the CPM and the Congress alike. Media are giving more importance to sensationalism than truth,'' said Kurien in Thiruvananthapuram.

Senior advocate Chander Uday Singh, who led the victim's case in the apex court against the acquittals of 35 accused, said he had not received any such letter nor had he any information about her request for re-opening the case against Kurien.

Reacting to the victim's allegation that police had not looked into her complaint that Kurian had assaulted her, retired ADGP Siby Mathews, who had probed the case, said police could not probe the case blindly going by her statement.

Mathews said police had examined the tour details of Kurien (a Union minister of state in 1996 when the rape case was reported). The girl had alleged that Kurian had assaulted her at Kumali guest house. On that day Kurien had toured without police escort and he was with a friend at Thiruvalla, away from Kumali, Mathews said.

"However, special prosecutor Janardhana Kurup was against my finding. Kurup wanted to make Kurien an accused in the case. Due to the dispute, then chief minister E K Nayanar had sought a report from then Advocate-General M K Damodaran, who, after examining the case diary, ratified the police finding. The decision not to implicate Kurien in the case was taken in the presence of Nayanar. Everything can be examined again," said Mathews.

Giving a new twist to the case, retired Superintendent of Police K K Joshwa, who had been in the investigation team, alleged that Kurien's journey on the day was "mysterious." "He had travelled without police escort. There was no evidence about Kurien's whereabouts from 5 pm to 10 pm. Nair Service Society leader Sukumaran Nair had told the police that Kurien had visited him at NSS headquarters at Changanassery at 7 pm. It was based on this statement that Mathews concluded that Kurien was not involved in the scandal," he alleged.

Victim's family friend and CPM leader Suja Susan George alleged that Kurien had wriggled out of the case with the support of police, government and his Church.

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