Poll violence, alleged sexual assault & cop suicide: What happened in Kasaragod party village

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Unais C M, CK Vijayan. Photo: Special arrangment

Kasaragod: Kasaragod's Bedakam sub-inspector C K Vijayan (49), who consumed poison because of "work pressure", died in a hospital in Kochi late Saturday night, May 4, after battling for life for five days.

Soon after, Kasaragod MP and Congress candidate Rajmohan Unnithan demanded that Bedadka grama panchayat president M Dhanya (32) and CPM leaders be charged with murder for pressuring the officer to first, register a fake sexual harassment case against Youth Congress state secretary Unais C M and then, arrest the political rival. He alleged Dhanya foisted a fake case against Unais for trying to stop bogus voting in the panchayat, a bastion of the CPM where all 17 wards are controlled by the Left Democratic Front.

Blame games and exchange of abuses between the supporters of the Congress-led UDF and the CPM-led LDF are unfolding on social media. What triggered Vijayan to consume poison on April 29 and did he blame the CPM in his dying declaration?

According to a deputy superintendent of police (DySP), the sub-inspector did not name CPM but mentioned the sexual harassment case filed by Dhanya in his dying declaration.

The officer said Vijayan enquired with the police officers on duty on election day and got the feedback that such an incident did not happen. "But in his dying declaration to the magistrate, he did not mention that the complaint was fake. He said he tried to end his life because he would not be able to conclude the investigation into the case," said the DySP.

Based on Dhanya's complaint, Unais was charged with wrongful restrain (Section 341 of IPC), assault to outrage the modesty of a woman (Section 354 of IPC), physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures (Section 354 (A)(1)(i) of IPC).

Youth Congress state secretary Unais C M. Photo: Facebook/Unais

The DySP said Vijayan was a grade sub-inspector (that is promoted from a senior civil police officer after 25 years of service) and did not have much experience as an investigating officer. "During most of his career, he was assigned to special units such as coastal police and railway police," the officer said.

Just before Dhanya's complaint, he got a similar case in which a woman and her adult daughter in Bandadka accused three young men of kidnapping them and sexually harassing them. Vijayan's investigation found that the complaint was false and he submitted a report on those lines. "But the petitioners filed a complaint against Vijayan for arriving at that conclusion. He faced some flak and was tense over it. That's when he got another sexual harassment case which also according to the feedback he got could have been motivated," said the officer. "But that is no reason for consuming poison," he said.

Vijayan consumed poison in his quarters between 11.30 am and noon on April 29 and phoned his colleagues around 12.45 pm. They rushed him to Kasaragod hospital within two hours and a stomach wash was performed. The doctors then advised him to be shifted to Indiana Hospital in Mangaluru. After a day, the Indiana doctors said his liver was damaged and recommended a liver transplant to save him.

Vijayan was then shifted to Amrita Hospital in Kochi for a liver transplant. "Initially, he showed signs of recovery but then his kidney too failed," said the DySP. He died on May 4.

What happened in the party village
In the last hours of voting on April 26, Youth Congress worker Ratheesh Babu, a booth agent for Rajmohan Unnithan, reportedly tried to block bogus voting at polling station no. 152 [a single teacher school called multi-grade learning centre (MGLC)] at Chembakkad, around 3km from Bedadka town.

Irked by the resistance, CPM workers surrounded the school and tried to assault him, said Unais. Dhanya said CPM workers protested because Ratheesh Babu came to the polling station drunk. "We had filed a police complaint, too," she said.

Ratheesh Babu shared the results of breath analyser and test done at Bedakam Taluk Hospital on the night of April 26 to prove the allegations wrong. "I went for the tests to prove my innocence. But the CPM booth agent was not ready to undergo the same tests," he said.

As the situation in Chembakkad became tense, around 150 Youth Congress workers, led by Unais surrounded polling station no. 143 (Govt LP School) in Bedadka around 8.30 pm.

At that time, panchayat president Dhanya, two Kudumbashree volunteers in charge of food and beverage, one police officer and the polling officials were at the booth. Dhanya said she was the last woman to vote in her booth but stayed back to ensure the Kudumbashree workers reached home safely. "The Youth Congress workers, who were protesting, said they would not allow me to go home unless police safely escorted Ratheesh Babu home in Chembakkad," said Dhanya.

If there was an issue in Chembakkad, they should go there, not protest in Bedadka, she said. "They did not go there because we have a majority there. If they go there, they will not come out. So, they challenged us here," she said.

Unais said the UDF had only four committed workers in Chembakkad, where Ratheesh Babu was surrounded. "But in Bedadka, though LDF has more votes, the UDF has around 150 workers. So we protested here," he said. At that time, LDF had only around 30 workers outside the booth, he said.

But local police and CRPF lathi-charged the crowd that dispersed the protesters at Bedadka, said Dhanya and Unais.

Rajmohan Unnithan . File Photo: Manorama

Around 9.45 pm, when the Kudumbashree workers left, Dhanya walked to her scooter parked near the school to go home. "On the way, a few elderly UDF leaders, whom I respect, asked me how I would go home. I said I have my scooter," she said.

When she started her two-wheeler, Unais allegedly appeared from behind sat on her vehicle and groped her, the panchayat president said in her complaint. "When I screamed, Mini, Madhavi, Madhu and Kripesh came to my rescue and Unais ran away," the complaint said. They took her home.

Dhanya told Onmanorama that her party told her she could file the police complaint the following day because "the understanding was nothing major had happened. We were relieved".

"I was not expecting the attack though they said they not allow us to go home," she said.

Though Dhanya and Unais have not spoken to each other before, they had a run-in on social media. On February 24, the Youth Congress leader uploaded the CCTV footage of Dhanya seeking votes from a Muslim family over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and mocked her for her "lack of political understanding". Dhanya had taken it up with CPM but the "party asked me to focus on campaigning because the election was just two days away".

Around 12.30 pm on April 27, she filed her complaint with Bedadka police. On April 28, the DYFI, the youth front of the CPM, took out a protest in Bedadka and raised murderous slogans against Unais. "You will not be able to come out on the road, you will not be safe in your house, we will hack you in your house. This is DYFI's word," the protesters shouted.

The next day, April 29, Vijayan consumed poison. That day, his wife's sister was getting married, said Dhanya. "He did not go to the wedding. He has not been going home for days," she said.

She said she told police that she felt ashamed and pained that a police officer attempted to take his own life over her complaint. "I also want to find the truth behind his death," she said.

The DySP said police have registered a case of unnatural death. "During the investigation, we will be checking the officer's call records to see if he was pressured by the CPM or the Congress leaders," he said.

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