Thiruvananthapuram: Most of the sleaze cases involving politicians have ended in police stations in Kerala. A Facebook post by renowned dubbing artiste Bhagya Lakshmi has given fresh life to such a case buried in a police station in Thrissur district two years ago.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reopened the case involving the alleged gangrape of a 32-year-old woman by a local leader of his ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and three of his friends after the victim narrated the humiliation and harassment meted out to her by the police.
The victim and her husband met the Chief Minister at his office in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday after he promised action against the culprits on the basis of the revelations made by the artiste in her Facebook page and explained the circumstances in which they withdrew the case.
Director General of Police Loknath Behra said that he had received a complaint about the incident and had initiated action on it. He said that he had also ordered police protection to the victim and her family.
The victim had told reporters earlier that she had withdrawn the complaint lodged against PM Jayanthan, a CPM member of Wadakkancherry Municipal Council, his brother Janeesh and their friends Bineesh and Shibhu some four months after the incident under duress from the accused and the police.
She alleged that the accused and the police led by Permangalam Circle Inspector forced her to compromise the case by giving a statement under Section 164 of the Cr PC before a magistrate. Accordingly, she gave a statement before the Judicial First Class Magistrate at Wadakancherry in Thrissur district in August this year absolving her tormentors
The victim said that the statement to be given to the magistrate was dictated to her at the police station in front of senior officials. She alleged that the Permangalam CI had talked to her even in threatening tones.
The woman said that the accused had detained her husband in their car when she was sent to the magistrate’s court or giving the statement. She said that she had feared they may harm him if she did not stick to the dictated statement.
The statement that later surfaced in the television channels said that the woman had filed the complaint against Jayanthan and his friends due to a dispute over a financial deal they had with her husband and she was withdrawing it after a compromise was reached on the deal.
The victim alleged that the police had harassed her four days continuously after she lodged the complaint in December 2014. She said that she was made to sit in the police from morning till evening on all these days and ridiculed in the public.
"The police paraded the four accused in front of me and asked lewd questions. One of the officers wanted to know which one of the accused had given me maximum pleasure. I felt this more painful than the rape. It was sort of a mental rape for me,” she said.
The incident leading to the case occurred in August 2014 when her husband, an alcoholic, was admitted to a de-addiction centre for treatment.
Noted women activist Parvathy, who produced the victim before the media on Thursday, said that Jayanthan and his friends, who were regular visitors of her house, went to her house and told that her husband had developed some complications. They volunteered to take her to the de-addiction centre.
"They took her in their car. However, when the car took a different direction, she raised an alarm. They shut her mouth and took her to a house in a remote corner outside the city and gang raped. They threatened to kill her children if she revealed the incident to anybody,” Parvathy told Firstpost.
She confided the incident to her husband four months later when he probed her about an abnormality he noticed in her behaviour. Soon he took her to the police station and lodged the complaint. Instead of trying to find out the truth, the police tried to find fault with her, Parvathy said.
Parvathy said that the woman had shown the courage to reveal her story after she saw a television programme in which the dubbing artist talked about suppressing of sexual cases in the state. She called Bhagya Lakshmi and sought an appointment.
The woman and her husband went to the artiste’s house the next day and narrated her better experiences with not only her rapists but also the police. Bhagya Lakshmi shared the story on her Facebook page with the consent of the victim.
Meanwhile, Jayanthan has termed the allegations against him baseless. He told reporters that he and his friends were framed by the woman and her husband after he sought Rs 3 lakh he had lent to him for his business. He has threatened to sue the couple for damaging his reputation.
However, Bhagya Lakshmi has stood by her statement. She has asked the government to find out the truth. Tourism Minister AC Moideen, who hails from Thrissur district, said that the government will investigate the case and take stern action against the accused if they are found guilty.
He said that neither the party nor the government will support the party leader involved in the incident. CPM Wadakkancherry area secretary CN Surendran also said that the party will investigate the allegation at its level and take action against Jayanthan if he is found guilty.
Women activists take these proclamations with a pinch of salt since barring one no politician involved in sexual cases was punished in the state so far. The track record of the police in cracking sex scandals involving top politicians has been very dismal.
The women activists had waged a long battle for implicating former Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty in the sensational Kozhikode ice cream parlour sex scandal and former Union minister PJ Kurien in the Suryanelli case.
Rejina (22), a victim as well as a witness in the ice cream parlour case, alleged that a senior police officer, who investigated the case, had forced her and her colleagues involved in the case to change the statement she gave against Kunhalikutty.
Kurien was similarly given a clean chit in the case involving the sexual exploitation of a minor girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district following an investigation by an Inspector General of Police. However, the victim insisted that he had sex with her at a guest house in Idukki district and filed a private complaint against Kurian, who is now deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha.
Names of several former ministers and senior politicians had figured in a series of sex scandals that rocked Kerala in the last two decades. Most of them have come out unscathed apparently with the help of police.
The only exception was Neelalohitadasan Nadar, a minister in the Naynar ministry. He was convicted by the court on the charge of molesting IAS officer Nalini Netto and IFS officer Prakruti Srivastava. However, he is yet to go to jail as his appeal against the verdict is still pending in the court.