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More trouble for Kurien after new revelation in rape case

(T K Devasia)
Filed on February 13, 2013

TRIVANDRUM - Spelling further trouble for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, the only convict in the Suryanelli gang rape case revealed that the senior Congress leader had abused the 16-year-old girl when she was under his captivity during February 1996.

Advocate S S Dharmajan, who jumped parole and went into hiding while serving five years’ imprisonment in the case, made the shocking revelation while speaking to the recently launched Malayalam channel, Mathrubhumi, from Mysore in Karnataka. He said Kurien had spent half-an-hour with the girl at the Kumily guest house in the evening on February 19, 1996.

In the interview, Dharmarajan said he had escorted Kurien in his Ambassador car from Vandiperiyar to Kumily at 6.30pm and had revealed his name to former additional director-general of police, Siby Mathews, head of the special investigation team (SIT) constituted to probe the case.

He alleged that he had not pressed Kurien’s name further on the direction of the senior police officer. He said Nair Service Society (NSS) secretary Sukumaran Nair’s statement that Kurien was at the NSS headquarters at Changancherry till late in the evening on February 19 was a lie. Both Nair and Siby Mathews had tried to save Kurien.

Dharmarajan said Kurien had approached him after Jacob Stephen, another Congress leader allegedly involved in raping the girl, informed him about the girl in his custody. Jacob, who was convicted by a special court, was later acquitted by the high court.

Dharmarajan said he had not revealed Kurien’s name in the court thinking that Sibi Mathews will save him after acceding to his request to spare Kurien. The convict, who has been running a coffee plantation in Mysore after jumping parole, said he will surrender before the police soon.

The new revelation, which is in tune with the fresh statements given by two witnesses, including Bharatiya Janata Party leader K S Rajan that Kurien had left Thiruvalla at around 5pm, has made Kurien’s position shaky.

Siby Mathews, who is currently state chief information commissioner, has dismissed Dharmarajan’s allegation as a desperate attempt to save his skin when the case comes up for retrial in the high court. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the high court after acquitting all but Dharmarajan accused in the case.

He said that Dharmarajan will have to make lot of explaining why he had not revealed Kurien’s name when he had opportunities. Reacting to the revelation, Kurien also echoed similar opinion. The court had given Dharmarajan an opportunity to speak anything more he had to say in the case during the hearing but he did not utter any word about him then. The media should find out the reason why he is saying these things now, Kurien said. Kurien pointed out that the apex court itself had made it clear that the statement given by a convict after the verdict will have no legal validity.

Senior lawyer Ramkumar, who had appeared on behalf of Kurien in the high court, said there were several contradictions between what the victim said in her private complaint against Kurien and Dharmarajan’s revelations. He pointed out that the victim had said Kurien had arrived at the guest house in a Maruti car. A lower court had found a prima facie case against Kurien in the complaint but the high court and the Supreme Court discharged him from the case relying mainly on the witnesses’ statements that the latter was at Thiruvalla at the time he was alleged to have raped the girl.

Two key witnesses retracted their statement after the girl pressed for a reinvestigation against Kurien in the wake of the Delhi gang rape and the subsequent Supreme Court verdict setting aside the Kerala High Court order and the wife of another witness altering her husband’s statement.

Women’s activists and opposition parties have cited Dharmarajan’s revelations as a confirmation of their allegations that Kurien was involved in the case and demanded his arrest and ouster from the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post.

When the issue was raised in the Assembly by the opposition, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government will examine the revelation along with other new facts in the case. The opposition also made a strong case for action against former high court judge Justice S Basant for portraying the girl as a child prostitute.

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