Dalit woman whose 2 daughters died mysteriously in Kerala starts another protest

Published on Oct 27, 2020 07:49 AM IST

The woman claims that the police sabotaged the case to protect those responsible for the deaths of her daughters. Four of the accused acquitted last year are said to be CPI(M) party workers.

Ramesh Chennithala speaking after meeting the mother of the two girls.(HT PHOTO)
Ramesh Chennithala speaking after meeting the mother of the two girls.(HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By

A Dalit woman whose two minor daughters were found dead under mysterious circumstances in Walayar in Kerala three years ago after they were allegedly sexually assaulted, began another round of protest on Monday seeking justice.

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Bharatiya Janata Party state president K Surendran called on the mother who is staging a dharna outside her home in Palakkad district.

“It is worse than the Hathras case in Uttar Pradesh. People who shed tears are ignoring two murders that happened in their own backyard. It is sad the mother is forced to begin another round of stir,” said Chennithala. He sought action against police officers who reportedly sabotaged the case.

The two sisters aged 12 and eight were found hanging in their home in a span of 52 days in Walayar when their parents went for work in 2017. The case had seen many twists and turns since then. Last month the Kerala Government had informed the high court that the case was not investigated properly and it was ready for a re-investigation. The mother had approached the HC for a court-monitored central agency probe.

Amid the latest protest, the stepfather of the girls alleged that he was forced to own up the crime by the investigating officer and that he was feeling suicidal. He said police want to protect the perpetrators of the crime so they were on the lookout for scapegoats. “I was threatened several times by the police. They backed out when I told them that I would die by suicide,” he said.

Kerala law minister A K Balan said the government has limitations as the case was in the court now. The ruling CPI(M) also maintained that the party supports the mother of the two girls but opposition parties were using her for political reasons.

The autopsy report had found that both girls were subjected to sexual assaults. The older girl died on January 13, 2017 and the younger one 52 days later. After the death of the older girl, the mother had named a few accused but the police failed to take any action which led to the second death, she alleged. Though both died under mysterious circumstances there was a concerted effort to dismiss the deaths as suicide.

“I will die on the street fighting for justice. When I met the CM a couple of months back he said there will be a CBI probe. I feel cheated now,” said the mother. She also said that the police officers who ‘weakened’ the case were recently promoted. Both she and her husband work as labourers.

Last year a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) court had set free four accused and passed serious strictures against the investigating team. But the police officer who headed the investigation was promoted later. The acquittals sparked indignation in the state after which the high court took up the case suo moto but proceedings were stalled again after the government announced a judicial commission.

A lawyer N Rajesh, who represented one of the accused in the case, was later appointed as district child welfare committee president, a body aimed at protecting rights of children. During trial many witnesses were also turned hostile and they were not booked. While acquitting the accused the court had passed strictures against the prosecution. The prosecutor was also sacked later.

The ruling CPI(M) is facing criticism as most of the accused are reported to be party workers. The state women’s commission also failed to come to the rescue of parents due to political pressure, said activists who are helping the parents of the two girls.

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    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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