The allegations of rape against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, made by the “Suryanelli girl’’ has been bolstered with an investigating officer in the original Special Investigation Team (SIT) punching holes in Mr. Kurien’s defence.
K.K. Joshua, a member of the SIT who later retired from service as Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, told The Hindu that other than the alibi that he met NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair, there was no evidence to prove that Mr. Kurien was not at Kumily on the day the victim claims he raped her.
The SIT chief, Sibi Mathews, had earlier given Mr. Kurien a clean chit on the basis of documentary evidence like travel log maintained by his driver, details of police escort and statements by his staff.
But Mr. Joshua countered this saying that there was no documentary evidence to prove that Mr. Kurien did not travel to Kumily, where the victim was kept in captivity and raped by various people. Mr. Joshua said the only shred of evidence in Mr. Kurien’s favour was the statement made by Mr. Nair, that he had met Mr. Kurien that day, February 19, 1996.
The investigating team had arraigned all the 42 alleged rapists and tried them merely on the basis of the victim’s statement. But in Mr. Kurien’s case the investigators refused to believe the victim. “She had identified Mr. Kurien from a newspaper report, yet he was not subjected to any identification test by the girl”, Mr. Joshua pointed out.
Talking to The Hindu over phone, Mr. Joshua said there was only proof of Mr. Kurien reaching Thiruvalla Rest House in the afternoon that day. He then visited one Idicula and made phone calls from his home.
Records made available to the investigators showed more than twenty calls made to New Delhi and Chennai, including calls made to his office in New Delhi. The last call was made around 5 p.m. and he returned to Thiruvalla only at 10.30 p.m. The girl in her letter to the counsel in the Supreme Court had reiterated her allegation that Mr. Kurien raped her at the Kumily Panchayat Guest House after sunset, that is during a gap of five hours for which there is no alibi other than Mr. Nair’s statement.
Mr. Joshua reminded that three or four witnesses were examined to corroborate her allegation of rape in the private complaint filed before the Peerumedu Judicial First Class Magistrate in 1998. The complaint was admitted and Mr. Kurien was summoned to appear in court. But this order was challenged in the High Court. Later the Supreme Court bench under the then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan cleared Mr. Kurien.
Mr. Kurien had all through the day claimed in TV interviews that Mr. Joshua was carrying out a personal vendetta against him. Mr. Joshua, however, said the complaint was in place from 1996 onwards. “He had spoken against me when I was appointed SP, Vigilance, in September 2011, which was much before the girl wrote this fresh letter. I have always been saying this, right from the beginning, and I will stick to this,” he said.