Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 18: The mother of the Suryanelli rape victim has urged Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to ensure that Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien does not represent the Indian government at the inauguration of Pope Francis I on Tuesday.
In a letter to Chandy, she pointed out that Kurien had sexually abused her daughter 17 years ago. The Congress leader should not be allowed to go to the Vatican to attend the papal inauguration given the grave allegations against him, she stressed.
According to the victim, Kurien was among the 42 men who exploited her back in Jan-Feb 1996. Kurien has strenuously denied this charge. Nevertheless, a lawyer who was the only person to be convicted in the Suryanelli rape case recently disclosed that the Congress leader remained closeted with the victim at the Kumily guest house for nearly half an hour in the evening of Feb 19, 1996.
SS Dharmarajan said that he had taken Kurien from Vandiperiyar to Kumily in his white Ambassador car on that day. The lawyer said that two other persons, Unni and Jamal, followed them in another car. Recalling that all of them reached the guest house at 6.30 p.m, Dharmarajan said that Kurien went into the guest house and emerged about 30 minutes later.
Kurien has all along offered a different version of events. He claims to have spent that particular evening at a friend's house in Tiruvalla, but the latter's wife avers that Kurien left their home around 5.15 p.m. If she is correct, it means that Kurien could well have gone to Kumily afterwards.
When the victim first revealed that Kurien had forced himself upon her at a room in the Kumily guest house, investigators refused to believe her. They instead relied on BSNL call records which seemed to substantiate Kurien's averment about him staying at the friend's house till 8 p.m on Feb 19, 1996.
After Dharmarajan made his stunning revelation, opposition parties in Kerala asked the Congress high command to remove Kurien from his post. Left MLAs forced repeated adjournments of the Kerala Assembly, pressing the same demand. However, Kurien refused to quit.
Kurien leaves for the Vatican amidst row
Even as the Suryanelli case continued to be an impediment for him, Kurien and his wife Susan left for the Vatican from Delhi on Monday along with MPs Jose K Mani (Kerala Congress-M) and Anto Antony (Congress). The delegation will watch Jorge Mario Bergoglio being installed as Pope Francis I, the Catholic church's 266th pontiff, at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday.