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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Olympian Mayookha Johny claims rape accused being protected, Thrissur cops probe afresh

The athlete said she was speaking on behalf of the victim, who she said still faces threat from the alleged accused, a businessman from Thrissur.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: June 29, 2021 7:57:39 am
Mayookha Johny, double-gold medallist at 2016 South Asian Games, told the media on Monday that the accused had waylaid her at a mall in Kochi in 2018 after the victim told him that she had shared all details with Mayookha. (Express Photo)

Following Olympian Mayookha Johny’s allegation that police and the previous state women’s commission chairperson, among others, tried to protect a businessman accused of rape and harassment of a woman, Thrissur police on Monday announced that a new team has been formed “with women officers” to probe the case anew.

Addressing the media in Thrissur, the athlete said she was speaking on behalf of the victim, who she said still faces threat from the alleged accused, a businessman from Thrissur.

Johny, the national record-holder in women’s triple jump, said the victim had made a police complaint in March this year, and a magistrate subsequently recorded her statement. “Police were initially very supportive but later started discouraging the complainant. She (victim) had met Thrissur-rural SP, G Poonguzhali, who showed keen interest in the case, but later looked not so keen to follow the case.”

Poonguzhali on Monday said, “I have reviewed the case and did not find any lapse in probe so far. There is no scientific evidence in the case, as the complaint came years after the incident. We have to proceed with circumstantial evidence, and such a step would take some time.”

She said, “I have formed a new investigation team with women police officers and the case has been transferred to the district crime branch (from local police). Besides, allegations raised by Mayookha are being looked into by special branch (intelligence wing) police.”

Johny alleged that a Catholic bishop from Thrissur district had called police and “intervened in favour of the accused”, and a minister in the previous LDF government also allegedly tried to “torpedo the probe”.

But Poonguzhali said, “There was no pressure from political parties or any other side. We are probing the case in an independent manner.”

Johny said they had tried to complain to the women’s commission as well, but stopped short after learning that its then chairperson, M C Josephine, had allegedly asked the police to not proceed in the case.

Josephine, who quit as the commission chairperson last week, did not respond to the allegation.

Johny told the media: “I am revealing these details with the hope that these people will keep away from the issue. The accused person is still walking free with the support of local politicians and the bishop.”

The accused and the victim are both from Thrissur district, and in 2016 he had trespassed into her home and abused her, Johny said. “He took her nude videos. The woman, then unmarried, did not then lodge a police complaint (fearing disgrace, and in view of her ailing parents). The accused continued to threaten and harass her over phone — even after she got married in 2018,” Johny told the media.

Last week, she said, the victim complained to the Chief Minister, but police officials subsequently informed her that it was difficult to proceed with the case for want of evidence. “We want justice for the woman. Police officials who are protecting the accused should be kept away from the probe,’’ she said.

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