Perverted Justice

The Suryanelli case is an excellent example of how dangerous political vendetta can be. It just goes to show how something as serious as rape can be turned into a score settling exercise. Worse, it just goes to show how women in India, while crying hoarse for their empowerment, emancipation and safety, are actually undermining their own credibility and worth.

As a woman, a journalist and someone who was as young (or old) as the victim herself when the scandal unfolded, I cannot but see the whole case as a massive cover-up, a score settling exercise and an unfortunate media trial. And as a proud Indian, I can only view with alarm, the ease with which any woman can accuse a man of laying hands on her, and bring about his physical and mental downfall.

What stands out as irregular to me, is this: Why 17 years? Why did it take 17 years for the so called witnesses and perpetrators to come out with evidence to the contrary? What if the Supreme Court had not come out with its latest order against the 35 accused? Would they have continued keeping quiet?

I’m sure we all agree that a girl who has been subject to a horrific gang rape over a period of several days is not in a position to correctly recognize anything or anyone, since the trauma itself is too great for her. For such a person to identify 35 of her rapists correctly, leave out PJ Kurien, who was then a central minister and then to recognize him from a newspaper photograph just three days prior to his( Kurien) filing nominations to the Lok Sabha, seems remarkable, to say the least.

Then again, she claims that a ‘khader clad fat man called Bhaji who she recognizes as Kurien’ raped her. Now, if the public choses to believe Dharmarajan, the prime accused after 17 years, he makes a point that Bhaji is not Kurien, but someone else. So, what about the girl’s testimony? Who then is the Khader clad Bhaji that she recognized as Kurien? If as Dharmarajan says, Kurian was there at the scene and he is not Bhaji, then who is the Khader clad Bhaji that the girl is talking about?

To me it seems as if all the media and the general public cares about is the mental and physical state of the girl. Because she was raped, whatever she says must be true. And because, in her traumatized state of mind she has identified Kurien, it must be true. Then again, because the witnesses, after so many years, have opted for a complete volte face and pointed fingers at Kurien, it must of course be true.”What is not true is that Kurien, a Central minister at the time, could not have gone all the way to the Kumali guest house without being recognized by the locals. What is also not true is that there is solid evidence of calls made by Kurien till 5 pm on that fateful day, from Tiruvalla, and then again at 10.20 pm from his residence in Mallappally, that night. From 5 pm to 10.20 pm  is a gap of 5 hours and twenty minutes. For Kurien to have travelled from Tiruvalla to Kumali, a distance of 120 kilometres, at 5 pm, raped the girl at 7 pm (as per the girl’s original private complaint filed in the court), and come back by 10.20 in time to make a phone call is impossible.

Despite this, of course, the rape victim must be believed. And what the witnesses say today must be swallowed whole, notwithstanding the fact that they testified to  the veracity of their statements 17 years ago. And so Kurien must be punished.

While it fills me with pride that Malayalees everywhere have chosen to take up cudgels for the case and demand that the guilty be punished, it fills me with disgust that they say so without being completely in possession of the facts.

They allege, firstly, that Mr Sukumaran Nair, whom PJ Kurien had gone to meet at the time, was a mere clerk at the NSS office, and not anyone that a Central Minister would want to visit. It would do them well to remember that Nair was the General Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), a UDF ally at the time, as well as Assistant General Secretary of the NSS. Also that as a Central minister, Kurien chose to call on the leadership of the NSS, not on any particular individual.

The justice conscious Indian public also says Kurien avoided all investigations and trial in the case. Does it even occur to them that when a minister of his rank is accused in a case like this, he will subject to the most intense scrutiny and investigation? Does this ‘justice’ acknowledge the fact that having someone’s movements scrutinized by the second, having their private phone calls and letters scanned and publicized, and being personally subject to the most embarrassing of questions and conclusions, can be as torturous and traumatizing as rape?

Again, I would like to point out that Kurien did not dispense with personal security himself. If I remember correctly, it was the policy of the Antony Government at the time to provide security only when a minister has an official government function, a decision taken as part of cost cutting measures. And Kurien’s NSS visit was not an official government ‘event’.

I may be a media person, but I am never in favour of the media thwarting facts to hike their TRP ratings. Recently, a Malayalam channel misinterpreted the statement of Mr Siby Mathews who was the chief investigating officer in the case, just to put forward a point. Where Siby Mathews had said “If the authorities are unhappy with the way I have investigated the (Suryanelli) case, let them investigate again,” the duty conscious anchor interpreted it to say: “Siby Mathews says the case could be investigated again.” This I would say is media trial at its worst, something to be abhorred.

While the media, the general public and the various women’s groups are having their share of fun and demanding that justice prevail, it would serve them well to realize that often, justice is not only for the victim, it is also for the accused. And that even the accused is entitled to demand that it prevails. As it MUST and WILL, in this case.


More by :  Anita Joseph Koshy

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Views: 3322      Comments: 9

Comment Am so glad now, that I did not accept Tehelka's job offer long ago.....Tarun Tejpal had interviewed me back then, and made an offer....but I said no to it coz I had a better one in hand...still, I would often wonder what it would be like, to work in Tehelka.....NOW I know!!!!
- Anitha, Oman Tribune

Anitha Joseph Koshy
26-Nov-2013 20:04 PM

Comment Anitha, You are ignoring or ignorant of several facts.

1) It did not take 17 years for witnesses to come out. there were witnesses against Kurien even in 1996. the police officer has conveniently refused to register their testimony. They have stated there is no case against Kurien based on some witnesses. But there is no statement recorded. What value is there in those statements, when there is no FIR in the first place. How can there be a proper investigation when there is no FIR ? As per constitution of India, the police is bound to register an FIR first. Whether Kurien is innocent or guilty, whether the girl is saying truth or not, whatever be the case, as an Indian citizen , FIR was her right. This fundamental right was denied to her. The very fact that FIR was not filed , prove that Kurien or someone on his behalf has influenced the case. There was a case against 35 people on the same crime, but Kurien was not included . What about the rights of equality guaranteed by constitution to all ? This is an injustice not only to victim, but other accused as well

2) You are forgetting a fundamental process of Indian legal system. It is the police and public prosecutor who is claimant in a criminal case. While the accused can get the best lawyer in the country, the victim has no choice , but rely on police and govt and public prosecutor. If any of them chooses to hide facts, victim has no choice

3) You say that "Does it even occur to them that when a minister of his rank is accused in a case like this, he will subject to the most intense scrutiny and investigation? " . Ha ha. Welcome to real world. This is precisely what has not happened. There was no official interrogation. Kurien, victim, or any of the witnesses have NOT been interrogated by police for or against Kurien.

4) there is a proof of phone call from his home ? Couldnt that be made by anyone else from his home

5) The victim might have been confused about some details. But that doesnt mean she could be confused about the identity of her tormentor. Arent you a woman ? Are you more likely to remember the person who had sex with you or the exact time of the event ? Is it so unbelievable that she may be confused about the time, or misunderstood the conversation of people around her on who is Bhaji , but remembered the face of the person who tormented her ? There is nothing controversial about her remembering all the people. This has happened in history before. Kuriyedathu Thathri remembered 63 people who had intercourse with her over years and remembered birthmarks and other body identification correctly.

6) At the time there is a controversy about Kurien preciding over Rajysabha when womens bill is being debated. See how he escaped the controversy by representing India in Pope's ceremony. He is not even a Catholic. If it turns out that he is guilty, it will be like India insulted Pope. Still , the catholic church is quite. Even Catholics in highest positions in India are not concerned. Kurien may be guilty or innocent, but this event shows that he is very powerful and influential at the highest levels. Other politicians have been fired for minor issues.

30-Mar-2013 06:38 AM

Comment It feels so callous to read an article by a woman author. This was such a horrific and degrading crime performed while the young girl from Suryanelli was below 17 years of age and and raped by 40 animals. In spite of reading about thousands of other rapes on lovely young (and older) females over the years, this one almost made me want to throw up immediately.

Although India does have a significant number of rapes yearly, this particular crime far exceeds the severity of any experienced here. Every Indian is of value to our global community and we should be looking for many more ways to prevent this tragedy from happening to them. As a just society, we just do not do enough to help these women escape poverty and take advantage of their many talents. For that matter, we are treating them almost as if they were from a remote village like Suryanelli, too. We can do better.

It doesn't mean a darn thing to quote exact quotes when trying to state a personal opinion; stating the exact number of people in the Suryanelli case won't change the tragedy the poor girl has gone through in her life. It is she whom we are sad at. It will take many generations to come before personal biases and laws will be changed in India...if ever. IMHO, REAL men have no need to fear the power of women...such that they feel compelled to kill them. Their own character is enhanced when they are chosen by a woman who is knowledgeable, caring, gracious, witty and wise. I pity you Ms.Anita, for being a woman!!

Anuradha Sreeram
10-Mar-2013 13:11 PM

Comment I really hope that the author is not based in Kerala. I she is, then she will be beaten to death by sensible malayalees. Does Ms.Anita have any idea what the poor girl has gone through or going through in her life?

Karakudiyil Dasan
24-Feb-2013 14:03 PM

Comment There's no difference between people like K Sudhakaran and this author. Ideally, the article should be renamed as "Perverted Article By A Perverted Journalist". Pathetic!!

Thomas Mathew
21-Feb-2013 13:30 PM

Comment I feel ashamed to call myself a journalist after reading this article. This is the first time someone is tryinng to openly defend the accused in this case, when everyone knows the exact truth. I really dont know where our country is heading to.

Vandana Bhagwat
20-Feb-2013 12:37 PM

Comment The author trots out that moldy old fossil saying it was the victim's fault. Next she'll say the victim dressed like a ho. What worries me, is that this author will probably spread such false news everywhere and this is the type of argument that works in our country. A third class mentality of the basest kind.

Rajesh P
19-Feb-2013 19:49 PM

Comment The author's comments make me want to weep. What must it be like to live in a society that thinks this way? What the author has said is absolutely vile and atrocious. If this is how India at large thinks then we better get used to remaining a third world nation. I may be guilty of painting the entire country with the brush provided by one disgusting journalist but I have to believe this woman says what she does because it resonates with her audience. There are honourable ways to defend an accused. But blaming a victim of violent rape is not one of them. We Indians has some serious soul searching to do.

18-Feb-2013 23:12 PM

Comment What crap of shit!! People in our country seem to have lost all senses lately. What is the author trying to prove? That the victim has to be blamed for the sufferings she had to go through? And I can't believe the author is a woman. With this article, Ms. Anita has compared herself with Mr.Sharma, the lawyer defending the accused in Delhi gang rape, who said "Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,". Ms.Anita is actualy doing women a favour - she's a "respected" woman in a "respected" occupation... and she spews nonsense. She is the face of the problem in India (and elsewhere). Keep it up, Ms.Anita. You're looking more and more like an idiot, and humanity will not let you get away with this. Change is coming, get used to it!!

18-Feb-2013 20:30 PM

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