The Kerala Assembly witnessed a protest over the acquittal of the key accused in a case of the death of two minor sisters, with the Congress-led Opposition seeking a discussion on the issue and a CBI probe.
Even as the noisy scenes continued in the Assembly, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remained non-committal over the Opposition demand.
While denying the demand for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, Vijayan assured the House that a humanitarian approach would be taken and the government will appeal against the verdict. He also said that his government may consider a CBI probe.
"We all expected that the accused would be punished, but the verdict was otherwise. We will look into all aspects and consider," said Vijayan.
Unhappy with Vijayan's statement, the entire Opposition protested in the Assembly forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.
As the Opposition launched an attack against the government, the website of the Kerala Law department was hacked by Kerala Cyber Warriors with a hashtag surfacing 'Justice for our sisters'.
Two deaths, two months apart
The case surfaced in January 2017, when an 11-year-old girl's body was found by her nine-year-old sister in her house in a village in the Palakkad district. Two months later, the younger girl was also found dead in her home in similar circumstances.
Post-mortem reports for both victims showed signs of sexual abuse and the mother reportedly told police that she had witnessed one of the accused sexually abuse one of the girls.
Though the police arrested five persons, the accused were, however, let off last week by a court for want of evidence as the prosecution failed to prove the case against them.
Who are the accused?
All the accused were known to the sisters’ family. While V Madhu and M Madhu are the girls’ mother Bhagyavathi’s close relatives, Shibu, a former co-worker of the parents, had been living with the family for eight years. Pradeep and the fifth accused, a juvenile were their neighbours. The court is yet to pronounce its verdict on the fifth accused.
When the court verdict came last week, the mother of the victims told the media that even with the autopsy report stating that sexual assault was carried out, the prosecution failed to do anything.
The mother of the children alleged to local media that the accused walked free beacuse of party connections, specifically with the ruling CPI-M [Communist Party of India-Marxist]. She also said she hadn't been informed of the verdict date.
Local legislator Shafi Parambil of the Congress slammed the government over the issue.
"When this case surfaced, you said the police will do their job and not let the accused off, and today what has happened and again you say the same thing. The victim's mother had publicly said that the CPI-M helped the accused and what have you done on that," asked Parambil.
On Monday in Palakkad, the youth wings of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party took out protest marches to the district police office seeking justice for the victims. Local legislator Shafi Parambil of the Congress slammed the government over the issue.
- Inputs from IANS