Suryanelli case: Missing convict brought to Kerala, remanded

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Kochi, Feb 16: The lawyer who was convicted in the Suryanelli rape case but jumped parole and remained at large till yesterday has been remanded in judicial custody.

The police team that nabbed SS Dharmarajan from Sagar in Karnataka brought him to Kerala by road and produced him before a special court in Kottayam today. Around noon, he was lodged at the sub jail in the town. According to police sources, he will be shifted to the Poojappura Central Prison in Thiruvanathapuram tomorrow.

Though mediapersons assembled outside the court asked him several questions, Dharmarajan kept mum. To the judge's query whether the Kerala Police had beaten him up during the interrogation, he replied in the negative.

Dharmarajan has been in the news ever since he disclosed to a Malayalam news channel that senior Congress leader PJ Kurien was transported in his white Ambassador car from Vandiperiyar to the Kumily guest house where the victim in the Suryanelli rape case was confined on Feb 19, 1996.

SS Dharmarajan

Dharmarajan told Mathrubhumi that Kurien was closeted for nearly 30 minutes with the victim on that day. This revelation compounded Kurien's woes. The CPI-M and other constituents of the Left Democratic Front in the state were already calling for his resignation since the victim avers that he had sexually exploited her.

Citing his exoneration by the courts, Kurien refused to quit. However, there is a big question mark on his continuing for long as the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The anti rape bill is to be introduced in the coming Budget Session. The BJP-led opposition will surely raise an objection if Kurien is in the chair when the Upper House discusses the bill.

As far as Dharmarajan is concerned, the fact that he had gone underground soon after being let out on bail in 2005 means his chances of getting any relief from the court in the near future are almost nil. Though he alongwith 34 persons were earlier found guilty in the sensational rape case, the Kerala High Court acquitted the others and remitted the advocate's sentence to just five years.

Now he might have to spend a longer time behind bars as the court is likely to be harsh in view of his past record.

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