Kerala rape acquittals stoke political controversy

Acquittal of the accused in the death of two minor sisters at Valayar in Palakkad district in central Kerala is snowballing into a major political controversy in Kerala owing to the alleged connections of the accused with the ruling CPM in the state.

Representative image. (PTI photo)

Acquittal of the accused in the death of two minor sisters at Valayar in Palakkad district in central Kerala is snowballing into a major political controversy in Kerala owing to the alleged connections of the accused with the ruling CPM in the state.

Even as the Kerala government decided to file an appeal in the case, the parents of the victims expressed lack of conference in the sate police and prosecution. The victims' mother alleged that the accused were having CPM connections, which helped them to sabotage the case. The BJP and Congress are staging demonstrations in the state and the Opposition Congress rocked the Assembly on Monday.

A girl aged 13 and her nine-year-old sister belonging to the dalit community were found hanging in their one-room thatched house at Valayar in a gap of around 50 days between January 13 and March 4, 2017. The five accused in the case were local people having close connections with the family. Medical reports of the deceased indicated sexual assault, including unnatural sex.

A state police team probed the case and filed charge sheet against five, including a minor, for rape and abetting suicide. A POCSO court in Palakkad acquitted three accused, V Madu, Shibu and M Madhu while another accused Pradeep Kumar was acquitted earlier on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. Trial of the minor is pending at a Juvenile court.

The major allegations raised by the parents of the deceased and opposition parties were that the accused, who were CPM activists, were helped by the local CPM leaders while they were held by the police. Lawyer N Rajesh who appeared for one of the accused was made district Child Welfare Committee chairman by the Kerala government. The younger sister had given statement that she saw two face masked persons going out of their house after her elder sister was found hanging in the house. The parents gave statement that they had witnessed sexual assault on their daughters. But even then the police and prosecution failed to prove the case.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly on Monday that the government would even go for a CBI probe into the case to ensure justice to the victims and their family. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress alleged that the government was trying to protest the accused instead of ensuring justice to the victims.

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