Kerala police criticised for arresting theatre owner who helped nab minor’s molester
The arrest and his release later in the day is the latest embarrassment for the Kerala Police which in recent times has been accused of custodial excesses and laxity in policing.india Updated: Jun 04, 2018 19:37 IST
A theatre owner who was hailed after he helped crack a sexual assault on a minor girl that eventually led to the arrest of a businessman and the girl’s mother last month, was arrested on Monday on charges that he informed the Childline, not the police about the incident.
The arrest of K Satheesh in Edappal town of Malappuram drew sharp criticism from many quarters. When his arrest snowballed into a big controversy, police let him off on bail.
But Malappuram superintendent of police Pratheesh Kumar denied that there was any vindictiveness in the theatre owner’s arrest.
“His arrest was part of the investigation and there was no other motive behind it,” Kumar said.
Last month, many including Kerala Women Commission chairperson MC Josephine had lauded Satheesh for taking the initiative that led to the arrest of the businessman and the minor’s mother.
“Police arrested him on trumped up charges. They are trying to hide their laxity. The commission will look into it,” said Josephine.
Many activists and others also condemned his arrest. “How can you shoot the messenger? His arrest will send wrong signal to others and force them to keep silent even if they witness such a crime,” said former Kerala police chief T P Senkumar.
Monday’s drama about Satheesh’s arrest and his release later in the day is the latest embarrassment for the Kerala Police which in recent times has been accused of custodial excesses and laxity in policing.
Moyideen Kutty, a middle-aged weakthy businessman, was arrested after CCTV clippings of the two-hour-long assault on the minor girl in the darkness of the cinema hall surfaced last month. Later the mother was also arrested after it was found the minor was abused with her consent. There were serious lapses on the part of police and they allegedly tried to hush up the case.
The incident took place on April 18. The night vision cameras in the theatre captured video footage of the man, flanked by a middle-aged woman on his right and a minor girl on his left, engaging in sexual acts with both. The theatre owner checked the visuals after one of the viewers alerted him. He immediately alerted the Childline officials who in turn informed the police on April 25.
However, police did not immediately register a case against the accused. They swung into action more than three weeks later only when the media exposed the incident and arrested Kutty and the girl’s mother on May 12. A sub-inspector of Changarakulam police station was suspended and investigation was handed over to a special investigation team after severe criticism of the way the police handled the complaint.
Both the mother and the businessman were later charged under provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso). Kutty runs a chain of jewellery shops and restaurants and also owns a lodge. The mother and her 10-year-old daughter were reportedly occupying one of the rooms in the lodge and residents said Kutty often took both of them out in his luxury car.