PJ Kurien, deputy Rajya Sabha chairman and a prominent Congress leader from Kerala has found himself in the middle of a raging media storm in Kerala, with a TV channel running an interview with the victim of the infamous Suryanelli gang rape case.
The victim, who was 16 years old at the time of the rape, and is currently leading a normal life in Kerala, reiterated to the TV channel Indiavision that the current Rajya Sabha chairman was one of the 35-40 people who had raped her back in 1996.
In what is known as the Suryanelli rape case, the girl was drugged and trafficked for 40 days when she was presented before several powerful people for their sexual enjoyment.
PJ Kurien had escaped being named in the case due to a judgment by former Supreme Court chief justice KG Balakrishnan.
In the sensational interview telecast by Indiavision today, the girl’s family alleged that the investigating police officer was biased against the victim and did not seem to pay heed to her claims about the Congress leader and others.
Kurien is seen as one of the promising new bunch of National leaders to emerge from the Congress leadership in Kerala recently, along with PC Chacko and AK Antony, and the controversy is likely to gather pace in the media.
Ironically, the girl’s mother told the channel that the girl recognized Kurien from a newspaper picture in which he was shown condemning the rape. The mother also said that they had handed over a letter to the Police promising “up to Rs 1.5 crore” for not naming a prominent leader in relation to the case.
Responding the interview, Kurien said he had no reaction. “I will (give my justification) where I need to,” he said. PC George, chief whip of the ruling Congress front in Kerala, said he did not consider the girl’s testimony as reliable. “Already 40 people have been named.. many more may be named later.. How can she remember all these people,” he asked.
Meanwhile both the BJP and the CPIM have latched on to the issue, with the youth wing of the state BJP unit calling for Kurien’s arrest.
The interview was conducted in the context of the Supreme Court asking the Kerala High Court to reconsider the case. The High Court had dismissed most of the accused in the case.