Another alibi in support of Kurien falls apart
The State government is fending off calls to kick off an inquiry into allegation of rape against P.J. Kurien, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, by ‘Suryanelli girl’ even as alibis that exonerated him are falling apart.
Close on the heels of K.S. Rajan, the then Alappuzha district secretary and presently one of the State secretaries of BJP, retracting his statement, Annamma, wife of Idicula, also punctured a hole in alibis that protected Mr. Kurien.
Kurien made phone calls from the house of Mr. Idicula in the evening of February 19 1996 as the rest house phone had conked. Mr. Idicula died 6 years ago.
On Tuesday, Annamma said Mr. Kurien arrived at their house around 4.30 p.m. and stayed for around 45 minutes. The SIT investigation had recorded evidence that calls were made to the office of Mr. Kurien (he was Union Minister at that time) in New Delhi and also to Chennai from Mr. Idicula’s house till 5 p.m.
Mr. Rajan had earlier given the statement that he met Mr. Kurien at Mr. Idicula’s residence around 7 p.m., which he “corrected” to 5 p.m on Monday. He also told the media that he was also not sure whether the meeting was on February 19, 1996 — the day when Mr. Kurien was alleged to have raped the girl at a building under Kumily panchayat.
It was one of the alibis that the Special Investigation Team relied upon to conclude that Mr. Kurien was not involved in the crime. The other defence being G Sukumaran Nair’s statement that he met Kurien at NSS HQ at Changanasserry at around 8pm.
According to Rajan and Annamma’s fresh statements, Mr. Kurien left Idicula’s house at Tiruvalla by 5pm.
Former SIT probe team member K.K. Joshua had earlier said there was no documentary evidence on Kurien’s whereabouts from 5pm till 10.30 pm when he made a call to Pathanamtitta Superintendent of Police. It was during this “missing” period that the girl alleged that Kurien raped her at Kumily Panchayat Guest House. Tiruvalla is just about 100km away from Kumily, which could be covered in one and a half hours.
However, the State government is yet to respond to demands for a further inquiry into Mr. Kurien’s role. “Father of the girl has given a letter asking for a new probe, with a cover note from the Leader of Opposition. This has been referred to the Director General of Prosecution for legal opinion and it is still awaited,” was what Minister for Home Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said when The Hindu asked him about it.
Sources in the State government hinted that Mr. Kurien was eligible for protection from a new trial under Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Article 20(2) of the Constitution, which forbids a person who has been acquitted or convicted to be tried again for the same offence. Legal experts have countered this saying that Mr. Kurien did not face trial in the case.
He challenged the summons issued by Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Peerumedu, to appear in connection with a private petition filed by the girl in 1998. When his discharge petition was approved by the High Court and petition filed by State government at Supreme Court was turned down – thus letting of Mr. Kurien from the case.
“There are reasons to believe that the police attempted a cover-up. The girl had spotted Mr. Kurien from a newspaper report, which I confirmed by showing her another publication with his photo. The girl has been repeating this for all these years and this is good enough to reopen the case,” said M.M. Mani, former Idukki district secretary of CPI(M), who is facing fresh trial for his alleged roles in murder cases reported in 1980s.
Mr. Kurien fired the first salvo against Mr. Mani by alleging that the latter was instrumental in cooking up witnesses against him. “On the contrary, the witnesses who provided alibi for Mr. Kurien are now proving to be false,” said Mr. Mani.