We will sell our land to fight for justice, says mother of abused, killed Keralite Dalit girls
“We will sell our land and this house (a makeshift one) to fight the case and get justice for our daughters. We will do it. How can we sit idle when the culprits are walking in front of us without being penalised?”
These were the words of the mother, whose two daughters, aged 13 and 9, were sexually abused and found hanging dead in their makeshift house between a 52-day gap in Walayar, a Tamil Nadu-Kerala border town, located in Palakkad district in Kerala, in 2017.
“If the police had probed the case seriously when the first girl died, then the second girl would not have died,” the mother added.
It was the younger sister who found the elder one hanging dead on 13 January 2017.
Even though the post-mortem report (in possession with The Lede) of the elder sister had mentioned about the sexual abuse, the file was ‘closed’ stating that the death was a suicide.
“Two were arrested in connection with the case. I had seen one even abusing my daughter. I had told this to police too. But the arrested were released from police station by local Communist Party of India (Marxist) members,” the mother adding that she is worried about the genuineness of the probe.
And a few days later, the younger sister was found hanging dead in the same room where the elder one was found dead. The younger one even had a picture of her elder sister in her underskirt.
Unfortunately on Friday, in a shocker to the Dalit parents, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Palakkad district had acquitted the accused in the case citing that the prosecution was not able to prove their involvement in the case.
Initially there were seven accused in the case. Four out of the seven were acquitted. The third accused was freed due to lack of evidence on September 30. And on Friday, three of them were released.
Unfortunately, the mother did not even know that Friday was the judgement day.
“I didn’t even know that Friday was the judgement day. And I couldn’t believe that the court will let the accused go free stating that there is lack of evidence. I am now hopeless,” the mother added.
M Balamurali, a rights activist from Palakkad who is coordinating the fight for justice, said that the Kerala government has failed to get justice for the Dalit family.
“There is political intervention. There two young girls were pushed into death. In the first death, there were two arrests made, M Madhu and V Madhu. But they were released forcefully by CPM local leaders,” Balamurali alleged.
However, the CPM brushed aside the allegations.
CPM Pudussery area secretary Subhas Chandrabose told the media that the accused has no links with the party. He added that CPM did not intervene in the investigation in any way.
Meanwhile, PE Usha, who had seen the post-mortem report while she was the director of Mahila Samkhya Society, said that letting the culprits go only based on lack of evidence is unfair.
“The elder sister’s post-mortem report states that she was subjected to unnatural death. It was surprising to learn that police didn’t find anything strange in that.
Additionally, the younger sister who was the first person to see her elder sister hanging dead was also found hanging dead after 52 days. Isn’t this strange?
Okay, we can agree with what the court is saying. The court can free the culprits. But then who raped these girls? Who forced them to commit suicide? Or who hanged them? How can girls aged 13 and 9 hang themselves? A reinvestigation should be done,” Usha said.
After the first sister’s death when there were allegations that a timely action from police would have prevented the death of the younger sister, police initiated disciplinary action. A sub inspector who probed the case was suspended.
And after the younger sister’s death, seven people were arrested. IPC 305 (abetment of suicide) IPC 376 (rape) SC/ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, POCSO, Juvenile Justice Act were charged.
But on Friday, other than one person (a minor) all the three were let free.
Following the release of the culprits, both online and offline protests against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is handling the home affairs is garnering momentum.
In 2017, Pinarayi had posted on Facebook that justice will be delivered. However, according to activists, the Facebook posting remained as a post and no serious action was taken to deliver justice.
“Here what we can see is the hollowness of the government. Those in power are very keen and fast in putting posts on social media stating that action will be taken, and justice will be delivered. However they forget to do their real duty,” Mini Mohan, a sociologist and criminologist, said.
She also said the current Child Welfare Committee Chairman N Rajesh in Palakkad had appeared for the culprits in this case.
“I don’t believe that government didn’t know that he had appeared for the culprits while being appointed. Even if the government was unaware about it, then also, it is a fault,” Mini said adding that Rajesh being a CPM sympathiser would have helped the CPM culprits in the case.
Following the offline and online pressure for the last two days, AK Balan, the law minister, said that the government will initiate steps to find who has faulted.
“DIG police will probe whether police is at fault or not. And DIG prosecution will probe whether the legal team has faulted or not. If we find that we have faulted, then we will initiate next steps,” the minister said.
The state government is waiting to hear from the DIG whether they can go for an appeal or not.
On Monday, the opposition parties walked out from the assembly as the government did not permit a discussion on the Walayar case failure.
The chief minister told the assembly that the government will go for an appeal and that the probe was not sabotaged.
However, the victims’ mother said that the accused were let off due to lapses in the police investigation.
“If the same police, which is investigating the case now, is filing the appeal, I have no faith in it. I will stand with those who guarantee that the accused will not be allowed to go free. There must be a reinvestigation,” she said.
According to National Crime Records Bureau, in Kerala, 3562 cases were registered in 2017 for crime against children. The increase in the same from 2016 was by 683.