The infamous Suryanelli sex case was the matter of much contention and heated debate in the Kerala assembly Wednesday, with the government and the Left opposition sticking to their respective stances, and refusing to budge.
Leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan made a submission, saying that in the wake of the latest ordinance signed by the president last week, holding that the victim's statement must get utmost importance, the Suryanelli victim too must be heeded: the woman had claimed that among those who exploited her was P.J. Kurien, currently deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Achuthanandan said that in the wake of the repeated assertions from the victim in this regard, the state government should order a fresh probe into the crime.
"You recently reopened investigations in two cases that were closed in the past (Anchery Baby murder case and K.T. Jayakrishnan murder case). Similarly, in the wake of the latest change of testimony by a few people who then had spoken for Kurien, and also considering that the victim has stood by her earlier statement, a fresh probe should be ordered," Achuthanandan said.
State Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the state government has sought legal advice in this matter. Once that advice is known, the government would consider what course of action to take, he said.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reiterated that all teams probing the case had cleared Kurien.
"We can only go as per the laws. It is cruel to haunt a person who has been cleared by the courts," Chandy said.
Meanwhile, the case has become the talking point in the state, and there are people rallying to the support of the victim.
A group of women activists of the Janadhiyapathiya Mahila Association, led by top CPI-M women leaders, staged a protest outside the assembly demanding Kurien's arrest.
Some protestors tried to barge into the assembly, but were stopped by police, and some of them got roughed up in the melee.
"Our activists were roughed up and dragged onto the streets, then taken into custody by the police. This was brutal treatment of peaceful protestors, and we will now stay put at this spot in front of the assembly building until our fellow-activists are released," former minister and central committee member of the CPI-M P.K. Sreemathi said.
The women activists detained by police were released later after a case was registered.
Kerala State Human Rights Commission chairman J.B. Koshy, who has served as chief justice of Bihar, said: "This is a case that has already been cleared by the courts, we have no rules to follow in a case like this. And I have not been reading the news on this issue; there is nothing but politics in it."
The case relates to the confinement and rape of a 16-year-old girl for a period of 45 days by 42 men in 1996. In 2005, the Kerala High Court acquitted 35 accused, and convicted one man for crimes related to sex trade. Last month, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case in the Kerala High Court.