Congress heat on Kerala Left Front over rape and murder of six-year-old girl
The arrest of a DYFI worker for the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl has put Kerala’s Left Front government under pressure from the Opposition that has launched protests demanding that the guilty doesn’t go scot-free like in an earlier case.
Arjun, 21, a well-known worker of the DYFI, the youth arm of the CPM, was picked up last week after the child was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her home in Vandiperiyar in Idukki district by her parents when they returned from work. Both Arjun and the victim are children of tea estate workers and neighbours in the line houses near the plantation area.
Police had initially questioned all the neighbours after the death was reported on June 30 and the post-mortem confirmed sexual assault. Arjun had claimed he had not seen the child for two days.
But the statement of a neighbour who had seen him with the child on the day she was found dead provided the breakthrough. Arjun later confessed to have sexually assaulted the girl when she was alone at home and using a shawl to hang her when she lost consciousness.
He admitted to have raped her multiple times since late 2019 by luring the child with goodies like chocolates. Arjun had even helped the child’s family during the funeral so as not to arouse any suspicion.
He has since been booked for rape, murder and several provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and sent to judicial custody.
Although the DYFI on Wednesday said it had sacked Arjun, the Opposition Congress launched statewide protests to ensure justice is served. State Youth Congress president Shafi Parambil visited the victim’s parents in Vandiperiyar on Thursday and led a protest march.
A large number of women from the Mahila Congress jostled with police outside the state women’s commission office in Thiruvananthapuram where they had marched to demand action in the case.
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy told reporters that his party would not sit quiet. “This government is not learning any lessons. This child got killed because the government did not give any importance to the earlier cases,” the Congress veteran said, alluding to the 2017 rape of two minor sisters in Walayar, Palakkad.
Two sisters aged 13 and nine and belonging to a Dalit family of labourers were found dead 52 days apart in January and March 2017 in their shanty in the industrial township of Walayar. Subsequent investigations confirmed they had committed suicide by hanging after repeated sexual assaults by five men, one of them a minor, who had links with the CPM.
But all of the accused were acquitted as the prosecution failed to present any clinching evidence. This had led to massive protests with the Opposition accusing the Left government of protecting its supporters.
The matter got a fresh lease of life when the children’s mother contested against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the Dharmadam constituency of Kannur in the April Assembly polls.
The case is now being probed by the CBI. Two of the accused were arrested again. While one is out on bail, the other died by suicide.
State Youth Congress president Parambil accused the Left government of providing good legal support to its cadres accused in such cases. “This only encourages their cadres to rape and kill. We are heading into a very dangerous situation if the CPM doesn’t stop supporting such people,” Parambil told reporters in Idukki.
Rights activist C.R. Neelakandan, who was among those who helped the victims’ family in the Walayar case, said arrest didn’t mean much.
“Even the Walayar accused were arrested, but they were let off due to laxity in the probe. That’s why we fear that the Vandiperiyar case also could meet a similar fate since the CPM has a history of backing its cadres in all kinds of cases,” he told The Telegraph.