Woman, daughter raped at ecotourism spot
Thenmala, Kerala’s famed ecotourism destination located some 72 km from here, is in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The police have arrested three forest guards for raping a mother and daughter from Tamil Nadu who arrived there as tourists, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan confirmed in the Assembly on Wednesday.
With this, the authenticity of a video of the incident which has been circulating for over a week through youtube has been confirmed. The arrests followed an allegation in the assembly by the Congress that the guards tied up the husband and raped his wife and daughter. The mother and daughter were also seen being stripped and paraded in the video clipping.
The family was holidaying in the border area of Aryankavu which is part of the eco-tourism project when the guards one of whom also happened to be the president of the Forest Protection Council confronted them. The Forest Department had suspended Manikantan, 24, Shahul Hameed, 33, and Unnikrishnan, 43, from service last week and the police arrested them on Tuesday. The trio was later taken to the spot of the incident for gathering evidence and the original video seized from them.
However, what seems to be making things easy for the alleged rapists is the fact that the family has not been traced which has hampered the filing of a complaint of rape.
“We have arrested them under the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and Indecent Representation of Women Prohibition Act and produced them in court today,” Forest Minister Binoy Vishwam said.
Earlier, Congress legislator V D Satheesan alleged that the government was soft-pedalling the case since one of the culprits was a local CPM leader. The Opposition members alleged that this was not the first incident involving the forest guards and more guards were involved in the crime.