Stepping up pressure on the UDF government over the Suryanelli gangrape case, CPI(M) led LDF walked out of the Assembly today, demanding re-investigation into the charges levelled by the victim against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P J Kurien.
The protest came even as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said government has an open mind on the issue and would take a decision on the Opposition's demand based on legal opinion.
"The government has sought legal opinion on whether it can reopen a case discharged by Supreme Court. The government is yet to get legal advice on it. A decision will be taken after getting that," Radhakrishnan said replying to a submission on the issue moved by Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.
Chandy, however, maintained that the charges against Kurien had already been examined by the High Court and Supreme court after a probe by three police teams.
"We are all committed to ensure protection for women and ensure stern action against people who indulge in violence against them. But it is very cruel to punish a person who has not done anything wrong," Chandy said.
An unfazed Kurien has all along rejected the charge and the demand for his resignation, saying it was a matter which had already been cleared by the Supreme Court.
Brinda Karat demands Kurien's resignation
Demanding a reinvestigation into the 1996 Suryanelli rape case in view of a charge levelled against Kurien by the victim, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat on Wednesday said the former should step down from his post.
Karat said there must be a reinvestigation since there is fresh evidence in the case,
"And, while the reinvestigation is going on, I think that Professor Kurien should step down from his post. He should resign from his post. And I appeal to all the women MPs to look at this case not through a party lens, but through the issue of a dignity of a woman. The Rajya Sabha is going to discuss the ordinance against sexual assault. Can you have in the chair a person who has been accused for the last 17 years by a victim? So, let there be a reinvestigation into the case," she added.
Karat said the victim has from the beginning recognised one of the persons as being Professor Kurien.
"Now, there is no political axe for that girl to have ever used his name unless she was absolutely convinced that he was. And she has spoken to me and I am absolutely convinced that a reinvestigating is required. Professor Kurien is now claiming that he has been exonerated by all the courts; that is actually misleading this country because the three witnesses who said that they had seen him in that vicinity were never questioned by anybody. And Professor Kurien came straight to the Supreme Court to quash it and the Supreme Court why they did it, we don't know," said Karat.
"But the Supreme Court heard Kurien, they never heard the girl, they never heard the victim, they never asked the victim to come and question her as to why she had given his name. So, in those circumstances since today there is fresh evidence since two of the important witnesses have stated that the timing, which had been earlier stated, was quite wrong," she added.
Karat said that she met the brave and courageous rape survivor only yesterday.
"And I was really struck by her immense courage and the fact that she has fought for justice for 17 years because as you know the Kerala High Court in a most perverse judgement had overturned the findings in judgement of the lower court and had freed all the accused, had acquitted them. And it took the Supreme Court over 10 years to re-look at the case and send the case back to the High Court after strongly criticising the High Court judgement," she added.
Kurien earlier on Tuesday rubbished all allegations being levelled against him in connection with this case, and alleged that the CPI-M had raised it to gain political mileage in the upcoming polls as they had done in the past.
"There is political conspiracy from the left parties because parliament election is there and they can use it. When they first raised the allegations, it was 1996 elections, immediately before the elections. After the inquiry, they dropped it and again it was raised immediately before the 1999 elections as a private complaint," Kurien told media in Thiruvanthapuram.
"All the witnesses have been questioned thrice by three inquires. They have given their statements. If they have changed you better go and ask them why they changed it today after 17 years," he added, while claiming his innocence.