The ‘Suryanelli case’ is back with gale force. On Saturday, the Opposition and government were daggers drawn over the Suryanelli girl’s demand that Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, whom she had named as one of her tormentors 17 years ago, be arraigned in the case. Mr. Kurien himself gave a significant twist to the story terming the sudden revival of the charge against him the result of a political conspiracy involving powerful sections within the Congress.
Mr. Kurien’s response came hours after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stepped in to defend him in very strong terms and Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan demanded his resignation. Mr. Achuthanandan also shot off a letter to Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan seeking reinvestigation of the entire case and the Suryanelli girl wrote to the Chief Minister with the same demand.
The day began with the Chief Minister convening a hurried news conference and terming ‘unfortunate and painful’ the revival of the allegation against Mr. Kurien after four investigations and three courts had cleared him. There was nothing new in the girl’s demand. The attempt was to whip a controversy and create a smokescreen over something that had not happened. If there was any substance in the allegation, why did the LDF government headed by the late E.K. Nayanar decide not to list Mr. Kurien as one of the accused in the case and why did the government headed by Mr. Achuthanandan fail to do anything about it, he asked.
Mr. Achuthanandan gave a new dimension to the entire affair accusing P. Sasi, who was political secretary to Mr. Nayanar, and the then Advocate General M.K. Damodaran, of having played a part in getting Mr. Kurien exempted from the list of accused in the case. He also accused the Siby Mathews, present Chief Information Commissioner and the then head of the police investigation team, of having played a ‘double role’ when handling the case. He would rather believe K.K. Joshua, a member of the investigation team, who had said that there was a deliberate attempt on Mr. Mathews’ part to save Mr. Kurien, the Opposition Leader said.
He also came down heavily on NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair, whose deposition that Mr. Kurien was with him at Changanassery when the Congress leader was alleged to have sexually exploited the girl hours away in Idukki had proved crucial in Mr. Kurien being left out of the list of accused. Why should Mr. Kurien, who was a Central Minister at the time, call on Mr. Nair who was only a middle ranking clerk at the NSS headquarters at the time, he asked.