PJ Kurien: Latest addition to India’s list of shameful ministers

15 Feb

Indian women cartoon by Manoj KureelLadies and gentlemen please put your hands together and welcome yet another character of Indian politics who is about to add more shame to our largest democracy of the world, and this time it’s none other than the speaker of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien who is accused of raping a minor Girl in Kerala. The Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Indian parliament and has special powers to make laws in respect of any matter in the national interest. PJ Kurien is deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha and takes care of the day-to-day matters of the house. It’s really sad and shocking for the people of India that a person like Kurien who holds such an important position in the Indian parliament is involved in such a horrifying case. So what is this case and how is Kuiren involved in this?

It started way back on January 16, 1996 when a 9th standard girl at Little Flower Convent School in Munnarwa, Kerala was abducted by a bus conductor. After the abduction, the victim was transferred to two others, one of whom a woman and the other a lawyer, victim was presented to the high and mighty in the state’s socio-political spectrum and raped by several persons, the girl was kept in illegal custody in various cities of Kerala and was sexually harassed for one month before she was set free on February 26, 1996. She was given a small amount of money and threatened for dire consequences if she told anyone about what had happened.  The case is known as the Suryanelli rape case, Suryanelli is a village in the backward district of Idukki in Kerala.

On March 28, 1996 the girl’s father submitted a petition to then chief minister AK Antony with a submission by the victim that she had identified from a photo in the Mathrubhumi (Malayalam language newspaper) that one of the assailants was former Union Minister PJ Kurien, who was called Baaji in the testimony. No evidence was found against Kurien and it was opined that Kurien could not have visited the girl at Kumily rest house during the time mentioned by her. Worst part was that Kurien was never interrogated by police in spite of victims’ complaint. However, the victim’s father filed a private complaint in the court of the first class magistrate at Peerumedu, with Kurien as a prime accused. Two witnesses confirmed that they had seen Kurian at the Kumily house during the days as alleged by the victim. In May 1999, the Peerumade first class judicial magistrate court had issued a direction to file a charge sheet against Kurian on the basis of a private complaint filed by the victim, but using influence at the Centre, Kurian managed to get an injunction from the Supreme Court against this indictment. In 1999, under public pressure, the government set up the State’s first-ever Special Court to try a case of sexual assault. A serious inquiry conducted by a team led by Inspector-General of Police Sibi Mathew bringing the culprits to book. On September 6, 2000, the Special Court sentenced 35 persons to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms. Kerala High Court refused to include Kurien as a defendant on April 4, 2007 for the lack of evidence. The worst part was that High Court even declared that the victim was a willing partner. Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition filed by Kerala Government challenging the High Court’s refusal to charge P J Kurien.

PJ KurienOn Jan 31, 2013, the Supreme Court set aside a Kerala High Court verdict acquitting 35 men accused of rape. The Supreme Court also expressed shock over the findings of the high court that the victim was a willing partner. According to the apex court, the high court did not look at the evidence properly and directed that the case be re-judged again within six month.  An interesting turn came to the Suryanelli case on February 11, 2013 when Dharmarajan, the convict who is absconding after obtaining bail, told a television channel that Sibi Mathews, who headed the special investigation team, had pressured him not to mention about Kurien’s alleged involvement in the case. Dharmarjan, who was charged with taking the girl to several places for 40 days between January and February in 1996 and sentenced to five years by the High Court, said that Kurien was spared the identification parade conducted as part of investigations.  He told Mathrubhumi News from an undisclosed place in Karnataka “I took Kurien in my Ambassador car to the Kumily Guest house, Why should I lie on that, I am ready to swear by my deceased father”

Suryanelli case is yet another example of how our Indian politicians exploit the laws of the land to their personal benefits, the funny part is that after such shameful allegations these people still dare to be in politics and become part of the parliamentary system which defines new laws for the country. How can a person like Kurien with such an allegation are even allowed to enter our parliament?

Should PJ Kurien resign immediately?

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