Kerala minister accused of sexual assault
A woman passenger has accused a VIP of sexually assaulting her on board a flight.india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 11:26 IST
A woman passenger has accused a VIP of sexually assaulting her on board a flight. Though the Chennai-based woman hasn’t named anyone in her complaint, Kerala PWD Minister PJ Joseph was the only VIP on the Chennai-Kochi Kingfisher flight. And that makes him the suspect.
The state Youth Congress reacted fast, gunning for the minister. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan said he would look into the matter once he gets a complaint. However, the minister, who has just come out of a corruption case unscathed, said it was a ploy to tarnish his reputation.
The incident happened on August 3. Initially, there were several attempts to allegedly hush up the case. The woman finally spoke on Sunday after the Kochi airport security officials made some inquiries.
In her complaint to Kochi airport officials, the woman said that as soon as the flight took off from Chennai and the lights went off, a man sitting behind her seat tried to grope her. When he tried again, the woman stood up and sought the airhostess’s help. Later, she was given a seat on the back row, she claimed.
The woman said that when the lights came on as the plane landed, the person who tried to harass her sat unmoved and was busy reading a newspaper as if nothing had happened. When she reached Kochi, she was reportedly advised not to make it an issue. When contacted by the Hindustan Times in Chennai, the woman refused to talk further.
However, her husband narrated the incident to a local channel. He said, “When the lights went off during take-off, she felt someone groping her. She turned back and saw a person leaning forward. When he repeated it, she raised an alarm.”
The pilot of the flight also admitted that the incident took place on board.
Soon after the news broke, the youth Congress held a demonstration in front of the state secretariat seeking the minister’s resignation.
However the minister, who is currently in his constituency in Thodupuzha (Idukki), said it was a plot to finish off his political career. “My opponents are raising frivolous charges. I will talk about it once I reach Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday,” said Josesph, who is also the chairman of his party Kerala Congress (Joseph).