Assembly Big Fight: Are molesters saved by their CPM links?

Health Minister Veena George and Vadakara MLA KK Rema engaged in a war of words in the Assembly. Photo: Screengrab/Sabha TV

Thiruvananthapuram: A debate on the growing violence against women in Kerala morphed into a battle of wits between Health Minister Veena George and Opposition Leader VD Satheesan in the Assembly on Wednesday.

Vadakara MLA and Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader KK Rema raised the issue as an adjournment motion. Rema based her arguments on four recent cases of atrocities against women. First was the Aroor case where a 19-year-old Dalit teenager was brutally attacked in public on July 7 in a place called Poochakkal near Aroor in Alappuzha. Rema wanted to know why the main culprit, Thycattussery Shyju, was not arrested. She alleged that Shyju was a CPM man.

The second involved the abuse of a student in CUSAT by the student welfare director TJ Baby on February 29. Rema said that the victim was under pressure to settle the issue. "But she complained to the party (CPM)," Rema said. Baby has still not been arrested, she said. Baby too, Rema said, was a CPM man.

The third case related to the perversions of a former SFI leader, S Rohith. A student of Sree Sankara College, Kalady, had complained to the police that Rohith had collected her photographs from her social media account and shared them on a Facebook page rife with adult content. Rema said that he had shared the photographs of over 20 girls on this shady FB page with obscene captions. "He was released on station bail," Rema said, suggesting Rohith's immense political clout.

The fourth was the serial abuse of underage girls by a coach of Kerala Cricket Academy. "This man was involved in a POCSO case two years ago and still he was able to squirm his way into such high posts using his political influence," Rema said. She said that Kerala should be ashamed that crimes worse than what Brij Bhushan Singh (the former president of the Wrestling Federation of India who was accused of abusing female wrestlers) had committed were happening in Kerala.

Curiously, it was Minister for Health and Woman and Child Development Veena George, and not Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who holds the Home portfolio, who responded to Rema. It has now become a habit for Pinarayi to avoid a direct confrontation with KK Rema.

Minister's version (Aroor): Two of the accused have been arrested. Under no circumstances will the accused be protected. This government stands by one abiding rule. No one who had committed atrocities against women and children would be protected, whatever the cost.

Satheesan's version: The Dalit girl went directly to the police station and registered a complaint that she and her family were receiving threats. (She did this after her brother was attacked.) The police should have right away gone out and enquired about her complaint but nothing was done for 48 hours. Is this your abiding rule? It was this negligence that led to the brutal attack on the girl. The minister spoke about the arrest of two accused but the chief culprit has still not been arrested. He is a party worker. If a police station cannot act on a girl's complaint, it is better to shut it down.

Opposition Leader VD Satheesan. Photo: Manorama News

Minister's version (CUSAT): The University received the complaint on June 29, and it was handed over to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The probe of the ICC is in its last stage. The police received a complaint only on July 6. The investigation is on.

Satheesan's version: The minister made it seem as if a swift redressal process had been put in place. When did this incident happen? On the night of February 29. But the case was registered only the other day (July 6). The CUSAT Teachers' Association, a CPM-affiliated union, has given a complaint to the Circle Inspector recently.

(The complaint says that the issue was first settled with an apology but later a gang of goons led by the SFI Aluva unit secretary reached the CUSAT campus and roughed up Baby. The victim was also said to be part of the attack.)

I am saying good things about the SFI. They came to the campus the very next day the girl was abused and gave the accused a sound thrashing. But even after this, a case was not registered. Because Baby is a CPM member. The CPM teachers' union in their letter has asked the CI to take action against the victim and the SFI goons who had attacked Baby. Is this the abiding rule the minister spoke of?

The accused began in the University in a post just above the clerk. He was then given the student welfare director's post, which by his qualification he was not supposed to occupy. Then, when he wanted his non-teaching post changed to a teaching post, the University statute was amended to grant him his wish and as a bonus he was given a UGC salary with retrospective effect for 11 years.

Minister's version (Kalady college): The accused has been arrested. The police are also investigating whether this person (Rohith) had victimised other girls, too.

Satheesan's version: These 20-odd girls whose photographs were shared filed a complaint at the police station. This man was called to the station and was quickly granted bail. The criminal who had uploaded the photographs of girls the age of our own kids was not kept in the station for even 15 minutes. Even MLAs are not given such VIP treatment. This is the abiding rule the minister spoke of.

Minister's version (KCA): We did not give the accused the treatment given to Brij Bhushan Singh. He (KCA's coach for girls Manu M) was arrested and six cases were charged against him. (Satheesan did not touch upon this issue.)

However, what intensified the acrimonious verbal exchanges was the tirade let loose by the health minister against the Congress for encouraging vile social media abuse against Left leaders, especially women including herself.

Veena George: Have we forgotten Kottayam Kunjachan (name of a Facebook page)? I don't want to utter the name of the person behind this vulgarity. To do that would be to sully this August House. (A 26-year-old Congress leader Abin Kodankra was arrested in September 2023 for abusing Left women leaders on social media.) Women leaders of the Left and their family members have been subjected to the worst forms of social media attacks.

What's more, even the wife of deceased CPM leader P Biju was not spared. I too am a victim of such attacks. Obscene comments were written below my Facebook posts, too. What action have you taken against this person? If in 2023 September this person had posted ugly comments against comrade Amritha (wife of CPM Rajya Sabha MP AA Rahim), in September 2024 the very same man was elevated as the Thiruvananthapuram district secretary of the KSU. And it was the lawyers deputed by the Congress who secured bail for this man.

Satheesan: The minister spoke about social media attacks on women. (At this point, Rema walked over to the Opposition Leader's side and placed a sheet of paper before him. Satheesan picked it up.) Are there any women who have been abused on social media the way KK Rema has? (He looked at the sheet of paper.) I am not going to read out from it. It would be torture. As if your bloodthirst has not been quenched even after murdering her husband with 51 cuts, you keep killing this woman on social media. Is that an abiding rule of yours?

One more thing. A woman was subjected to abuse at Kozhikode Medical College by a staff. The victim complained and one of the woman employees of the hospital gave a statement to the police that the accused was present at the spot. And this woman who boldly stood by the victim was transferred to Idukki by this health minister. The court had to intervene and cancel the transfer. And even after this favourable High Court verdict, this minister kept her outside for seven days.

Veena George: (The Speaker allows her to speak only after Satheesan had led a walkout of the UDF members) This woman was the head nurse of the ward where the victim was abused. And this person was not there when the incident happened. She returned two days later, and it was under her watch that five people had walked up to the victim and tried to influence her. More seriously, she did not report this incident for two days.

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