Kerala imam booked for sexual assault on minor
The Kerala police on Tuesday booked an Imam for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram last week. Police said the accused, Shafiq Al Qassimi, was booked under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
A senior police officer of the district said the accused was absconding and efforts were on to nab him.
A scholar and orator, Qassim (42) was also a member of the Imam Council of Kerala. The council suspended him and removed him from the post of chief Imam of the Thalikkode mosque after it received a video of him with the girl who is a madrassa student and soon after the police booked him.
Activists alleged that there were attempts to hush up the case and police intervened only after the Imam Council took action against him.
The Imam and the minor girl were reportedly spotted at an isolated forest area by a group of women labourers. When they confronted him he told them they were recently married and the girl was his wife. But the women noticed the girl’s uniform and badge in the car in which they were travelling and alerted local people. The imam and the girl tried to escape but the locals chased them and took a video of the skirmish.
Police allegedly dithered in taking action saying the girl’s parents did not file any complaint and acted only after some activists petitioned chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state police chief Loknath Behra. Later medical examination confirmed assault on the minor.
Many local people later told police that the accused was spotted in the forest area earlier also. Childline officials said they will be speaking to all girls studying in the madrassa to find out whether more were sexually exploited by the accused.