July 20, 2021 3:13:42 pm
In fresh headache for the Kerala government, Minister for Forest and Wildlife Protection AK Saseendran, has been accused of intervening in a case of molestation filed against a leader of his party and exerting pressure to suppress it. Saseendran is a leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a partner in the LDF government in Kerala.
The victim, daughter of a local NCP leader in Kollam district’s Kundara, had filed a case of molestation against G Padmakaran, a member of the NCP state committee, on June 28.
According to the victim, the accused had touched her hand inappropriately when she visited his shop on March 6. The accused purportedly held a grudge against her as she had contested the local body elections in December last year as a candidate of the BJP. He reportedly asked her if she received money from the BJP for fighting on the party’s ticket. If so, he could offer her the same money, he told her, in a disparaging tone.
The victim told reporters Tuesday that several NCP district and state leaders called her at the insistence of Saseendran and Varkala Ravikumar, a party leader, to request her not to go ahead with the complaint. In the first week of July, Saseendran himself telephoned her father asking him to ‘settle it in a good way.’
“The minister called my father and he knew what the issue was. The voice clip (of the call) clearly indicates that he knew what the case was about…when my father asked him how he should ‘resolve’ it, the minister hung up after a while,” she said.
The call recording, now public, confirmed Saseendran’s conversation with the victim’s father. When the father asks him if he was talking about the case filed against Padmakaran, the minister is heard saying, “Yes, yes, you must settle it. I heard about it and that’s why I’m telling you.” When the father asks him how he should ‘settle’ it, the minister smiles and says, “You know how to do that.”
Saseendran, on his part, claimed that he didn’t know it was a case of molestation. “I thought it was a dispute between two workers of the party. When I understood that it was more than that, I withdrew,” he said.
The Congress and the BJP have demanded the minister’s resignation.
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