Suryanelli sex case: 35 found guilty, four acquitted

KOTTAYAM, SEPT. 2. In what is termed a landmark judgment, the Special Court constituted for the trial of the controversial Suryanelli sex scandal has found 35 of the 39 accused, including three women, guilty of the crime. Four have been acquitted.

The sentences would be pronounced on September 6, the Special Court judge, Mr. M. Sasidharana Nambiar, said here today.

The prosecution case was that a 16-year-old girl was abducted from her hostel at Suryanelli (Idukki district), detained unlawfully and was sexually abused and gang-raped by over 40 persons during the period from January 16 and February 26, 1996. During this period, she was taken to places as far away as Kumily, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Kanyakumari Palakkad, Ernakulam Moovattupuzha, Gandhinagar etc. There were 42 accused in the case. Among them, Dharma Rajan, an advocate, and `Elite' Devasya, an employee at the Kumily Rest House, are absconding. Another accused, Salim, is no more.

The court found the accused guilty of criminal conspiracy (IPC Section 120-B) gang rape (Section 376.2g), rape (376 (i)) unlawful detention of girl (368), procuration of minor girl for the purpose of having intercourse by other persons (366) abduction (363), kidnapping (365) etc.

The 365-page judgment has made critical remarks about the local police who had looked into the case during the initial stages. The court has found that the initial investigation was delayed and attempts were made at this stage by the investigating officer to help the defendants.

The scandal had created upheavals not only in the social life of the State but also in political circles even as many of the accused were having high political connections. One of the persons who has been found guilty was a Congress(I) member of the Kottayam District Panchayat and a few others were active workers of the CPI(M), the JSS etc. The issue was a crucial component of the last parliamentary elections and the former Union Minister, Mr. P. J. Kurian, who was found not involved in the case by the special investigating team, was brought to the court by the victim through a private complaint. The issue is now pending before the Supreme Court as he secured a stay order and contested in the last parliamentary elections from Idukki, and lost.

It is also pointed out that this was for the first time a special court was set up for the trial of a sex scandal.

Those who have been found guilty are Raju, Puthuchjirayil, Konnathadi; Usha, Kottadikunnel, Chirakkadavu; P. K. Jamal, Puthuparambil House, Chirakkadavu; N. G. Regi, Nellickal House, Panachikkad; Cheriyan alias Cheriyachan Kurichiyil House, Pala; Unnikrishnan Nair, Vadakkekara House; Kanjirappallyl Jose, Nedumthakidiyil House, Puliyannoor; Sreekumar, Valiaparambil House, Nattakom; Rajendran Nair alias Rajan, Mavarathala House, Neyyattinkara; Jacob Stephen, Mavelil House, Ayarkunnam; Aji Mangadu House, Moovattupuzha; Satheesan alias Sathi, Vattakkavumkal House, Ponkunnam; Aliyar alias Ali, Kuzhikdnadathil House, Ramamangalam, Moovattupuzha; Mohammed Yoosaf, Kuzhithottiyil House, Moovattupuzha; Davood, Padinjrevattathu Puthenpurayl, Moovattupuzha; Thulaseedharan, Kapliyil House, Erumeli; Mohanan, Kottadikunnel House, Chirakkadavu; Rajagopalan, Kanachumala House, Chirakkadavu; Mathew Joseph, Panthiruvelil House, Chirakkadavu; Sreekumar, Thekkeyil House, Chirakkadavu; Sunny George, Karuvakkunnel House, Puliyannoor; Jiji, Illimoottil House, Lalam; Joseph alias Baby, Cheeramkuzhiyil House, Elikkulam; Sabu, Pinamarukil House, Chirakkadavu; Varghese, Manalikkudiyil House, Rayamangalam; George Cheriyan, Thennasseril House, Vazhoor; Vijayakumar, Ikkara House, Thottappuzhassery; Ashraf, Ullappillil House, Moovattupuzha; Antony alias Baji, Kuzhikkattuthazha House, Elangulam, Kanjirappally; Shaji alias Jimmy, Padinjarevettathu House, Ramamangalam; Anil alias Ani, Puthenthoppil House, Moovattupuzha; Babu Mathew, Puliamkunnel House, Kudayathur; K. Thankappan, Thonikkadavil House, Koovappally; Ms. Mary, Kunnathu House, Kuravilangadu and Ms. Vilasini, Kadammannur Nadar Theruvu, Madurai.

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