Imam 'sexually abused' minor girl in Kerala

Imam 'sexually abused' minor girl in Kerala

The imam of a mosque in the rural parts of Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram has allegedly sexually abused a 14-year-old girl by taking her into a nearby forest area.

The local police registered a case on Tuesday on the basis of a complaint filed by the president of Jamaat committee of the mosque at Tholicode, about 25 km from Thiruvananthapuram city. The accused, identified as Shafeek Qasimi, was removed from the imam post and he was said to be absconding.

However, the police registered the FIR only by invoking section 366(A) of the Indian Penal Code for unlawful custody of a minor girl. More charges like rape will be added after recording the girl's statement, said the local police.

The incident took place on February 2. Some local people heard a girl screaming from a forest area near Vithura, en-route to the Ponmudi hill station in Thiruvananthapuram. A couple of people later spotted a multi-utility vehicle inside the forest area. When they enquired, the imam said that his wife was inside the vehicle and she was unwell.

Lured by imam

The members of the Jamaat committee of the mosque learnt about the incident and conducted an enquiry. The spot where the alleged incident took place was barely 2 km away from the girl's house. The imam allegedly lured her while she was returning from school. The incident was widely discussed in the area and some messages, including video clips of witness accounts, were shared on social media by the local people. However, the girl is yet to file a complaint.

According to the local police, the girl is under the care of Childline, an NGO working for children's safety. Her statement would be recorded before a magistrate and medical examination would be done.

Meanwhile, the accused was learnt to have moved the High Court seeking anticipatory bail.