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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Kerala: Year after accused acquitted, mother of Walayar rape victims starts protest, CM assures justice

In January 2017, the older of the two sisters, aged 13, was found hanging on a rafter inside the family's one-room home. Two months later, the younger sister was found hanging on the same rafter.

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi | Updated: October 26, 2020 10:00:35 pm
Women shot dead by former classmate: Kin claim accused was pressuring her to marry himLater the accused and four of his accomplices allegedly raped her at different locations in Ahmedabad over three months.(Representational Image)

On a day the mother of two minor Dalit sisters, who were raped and found hanging at their home in Walayar in 2017, began a ‘satyagraha’ calling for a High Court-monitored probe into the case and tough action against errant police officers, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that the government is committed to securing justice for the family. The satyagraha of the victims’ family comes on the first anniversary of the acquittal of all accused in the case by a sessions court.

“As Chief Minister, I have no intention of cheating anyone. Everyone knows that. The government wants to ensure justice for the parents of the Walayar children. We are with them,” Vijayan told reporters at a briefing in Thiruvananthapuram.

“The legal fight against the acquittal of the accused is important and the government has appealed it in the HC. The appeals filed by the mother of the victims are also pending in the HC. The HC’s order to re-arrest the accused came in response to the government’s request for the same. The HC passed the rare order by understanding the seriousness of the government stand,” he added.

Vijayan said there is no legal possibility for a different agency to probe the case in which the court has completed trial and acquitted all the accused. However, he said, if the lapses in the trial court can be pointed out and if the trial court verdict gets quashed, a new investigation can be demanded.

The CM defended the government saying that a commission of retired district judge PK Haneefa had been appointed to look into the lapses of the initial police investigation in the case. The report of the commission has been tabled on the floor of the Assembly.

“The special prosecutors in the trial court have been asked to step aside. There will be tougher action against the police officers named as accused in the commission report. I heard the mother of the children saying that she trusts the government. We will do everything to ensure justice for the family,” he said.

However, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the victims’ family in Walayar Monday, lashed out at the CPM-led government, comparing the treatment meted out to the parents in Walayar to that of the Hathras Dalit girl’s family.

“There is no difference between Hathras and Walayar. Both are examples of state-sponsored extremism. Kerala must stand together against such extremism. This family must get justice. Their protest deserves importance. It was unfortunate that the minister for SC/ST welfare recently visited the area, but did not meet the family. And he’s asking why are they protesting?” Chennithala told reporters.

On January 13, 2017, the older of the two sisters, aged 13, was found hanging on a rafter inside the family’s one-room home near Walayar on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Two months later, on March 4, the younger sibling aged nine was also found hanging on the same rafter, leading to widespread protests across the state.

Post-mortem examinations of the two children confirmed they were subjected to sexual assault before their deaths. Following protests, five persons were arrested by the police.

However, on October 25, 2019, a special POCSO court acquitted three of the accused while another accused was found not guilty in an earlier judgment. The judge noted that the prosecution failed miserably in proving the alleged offences against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

 

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