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CIMA Gallary

Convict in net after Kurien jab

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 15: The lone convict in Kerala’s Suryanelli sex slave case, who had jumped parole but this week gave a television interview in which he alleged Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P.J. Kurien’s involvement in the gang rape of a teenager, has been arrested.

S.S. Dharmarajan was tracked down to a Karnataka forest temple, where he had fled from Mysore after the interview to a local channel on February 11.

With Kerala police on his heels after the interview was aired, the former lawyer moved to Shimoga and then to the Sagar where he was found today. He had also shaved off his hair.

Police sources said he was being brought to Kerala where he will be produced before the Kottayam court that had issued an arrest warrant for him earlier this week.

In 2002, Dharmarajan and 34 others were convicted and sentenced to life for the abduction, rape and gang rape of a 16-year-old who hailed from Suryanelli, a remote hamlet in Idukki district, in 1996.

A division bench of Kerala High Court in 2005 reversed the conviction of 34 accused and set them free. Dharmarajan’s sentence was remitted to five years. He, however, jumped parole and went into hiding.

The case, which had faded from public memory, burst back into the limelight after the Supreme Court last month set aside all the acquittals.

That also brought back allegations raised by the victim against Kurien, who at the time of the incident was a Union minister in the Narasimha Rao government.

The girl had in a private complaint alleged that Kurien raped her twice in a guesthouse in Idukki on February 19, 1996.

The Rajya Sabha deputy chairman has denied the allegations. Three separate investigations had cleared him, he claimed, and pointed to a Supreme Court order allowing his petition for discharge in the case.

But Dharmarajan said last week that he had ferried Kurien in his Ambassador to the guesthouse that night.

Some other witnesses too have come out with statements pointing fingers at the investigating team and claiming that the officers had connived to save Kurien.