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Friday, December 8, 2023

The alarming number of POCSO cases in Kerala and appeasement politics

Why are POCSO cases rising in self-proclaimed ‘Number One’ Kerala? On 15 December, Janam TV reported that a madrassa teacher who sexually assaulted an 11-year-old student in Varkala was arrested. Salahuddin A.S., son of Dar ul Najad Abdul Majeed, a native of Kummil near Kadakkal in Thiruvananthapuram district, was arrested by Ayiroor police. The incident occurred inside a madrassa at Varkala under Ayiroor police station limits. 

The girl, who had gone to the Madrasa for religious studies, was molested by her ustad. School teachers became suspicious about the child’s behavior, and the sexual assault came to light when they counseled her. The teachers informed the child’s parents, who filed a complaint at the Ayiroor police station. 

Salahuddin went into hiding before the police arrived, but he was soon arrested. Madrasa authorities claimed that they fired the accused immediately. Police are investigating whether there are more victims.

In September, Vellangallur police in Thrissur district arrested a Madrassa ustad named Thoyib Farhan (22) for attempting to rape a nine-year-old girl inside the madrassa toilet. Police registered a case based on a complaint by the victim’s parents after the girl revealed her experience. Farhan was charged under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Local police indicated that he had sexually assaulted several children. Police did not release his images and started a ‘detailed investigation,’ but that was it.

In April, News 18 informed that Varkala police arrested an accused who molested a 14-year-old girl. She was alone at home when Abdul Salam’s son Rafi (43) approached the victim asking for drinking water. When she gave him water, Rafi dragged her inside and raped the minor girl. The child’s parents are daily wage laborers, and Rafi worked with the victim’s father. Rafi knew the victim’s vulnerability, went to her house, and molested the child when the parents toiled. The accused was produced in court and remanded.

On 26 November, Devdiscourse notified that a teacher from Chadayamangalam in the Kollam district was detained under the POCSO act for molesting one of his girl students. Yousuf sexually assaulted the victim during the school arts festival and absconded when the minor complained. Police registered a case and claimed an investigation was on. Kerala police are yet to find the pedophile teacher.

Mavoor police arrested Pazhoor Irattakandiyil Ashkar alias Sudeendran (43) after he raped a six-year-old girl in Kozhikode. Officers led by Mavoor CI, K Vinodhan, arrested the rapist. The accused was remanded for 14 days. The attack seemed so sick that the media did not report the details but published it on 6 December.

Pallithottam police in Kollam district arrested Afzal (27) after he raped and impregnated a minor girl. The accused groomed her, promising marriage, and raped her at his house. The girl’s parents learned about the abuse after she became pregnant. CI Fayas and SI Anil Basil arrested the accused, produced Afzal in court, and he was remanded. Malayala Manorama reported the incident on 9 December.

Minor Boys

On 2 December, Kerala Kaumudi reported that Kozhikode police registered a case against four youths for abducting and sexually assaulting a minor boy. Kozhikode town police registered a case under the POCSO Act against Aziz, Uwaiz, and Abbas based on the complaint lodged on behalf of a 15-year-old boy. The incident occurred on 27 October, and Kerala police claimed another accused could not be ‘identified.’ According to the police, the accused kidnapped the boy from Malappuram, took him to Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode, and sexually assaulted him. The missing accused is yet to be identified or detained. 

On 5 December, Media Mangalam documented that a middle-aged man was arrested for sodomizing a minor boy in Kozhikode. Ahnas, a native of Wayanad Muthanga, was arrested by the town police. The victim had left home and reached the Kozhikode public transport bus stand when the accused lured the minor boy by promising him a job. Ahnas took the child to different lodges in the city and raped him. Town Inspector MV Biju arrested the accused, and the court remanded him.

Kozhikode-based Madhyamam (anti-national Jamaat-e-Islami mouthpiece) too reported the incident but would not publish the photos of the accused. They knew the victim was a boy, and still, they used an image of a young girl in the report.  

KP Ismail (Kabardar-49) of Thaikadappuram, near Nileshwaram in Kasargod district, was arrested for sodomizing a minor. The boy had come for religious studies at the local madrassa. Police said the child was subjected to unnatural sex by showing obscene videos on the phone. The torture happened between 10 October and 2 November. Ismail was arrested by Nileswaram SI, P. Rajeev, and charged under sections of the POCSO act.

The victim informed his teachers, following which police arrested the perverted pedophile. Ismail is the state office bearer of the Swatantra Thozhilali Union (STU). It was formed in 1957 and is Bharat’s oldest trade union federation. STU is based out of Kozhikode and is associated with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). Karma News reported the incident on 7 December. 

POCSO and Politics of Appeasement

Unfortunately, in Kerala, the list of sexual atrocities against children (both boys and girls) goes on and on. Most involve middle-aged men from a particular community. (Some with Hindu nicknames). Even local sociologists are still in denial, making the issue even more complex. Politics and a sloppy punishment system multiply its gravity.

In July, the Irinjalakuda Fast Track Court judge K P Pradeep sentenced a 37-year-old man to 40 years of rigorous imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. The accused, Hilar alias Muthu, son of Arakkapparambil Haneefa of Karuppadanna Vellangallur in Thrissur, was also fined two lakhs rupees to be handed over to the survivor. The sexual assault happened in 2015. Unfortunately, it took eight years for justice to arrive. Some victims are waiting even after ten years. Judgments are rare and far between. This provides pedophiles with ample opportunities to allegedly threaten the victims, arrange payments to bribe the system or escape the country.

Religious appeasement means that the Kerala government either turns a blind eye or, in some cases, even helps such child abusers. Both the opposition Congress and the ruling communists are united regarding such matters.

Absconding POCSO accused Shamsuddin Nadakkavil from Malappuram

Even social workers and child activists in Kerala seem to have forgotten about the infamous pedophile Shamsuddin Nadakkavil from Valanchery, Malappuram. He was accused of sexually abusing an underage girl at various locations and was slapped with the stringent POCSO. The whole system allowed and helped Nadakkavil flee the country after the crime came to light in May 2019.

Though Nadakkavil ran a ‘charcoal’ business in Dubai, he was a Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM-backed independent member of the local self-government body from Valanchery municipality in Kerala. He was reportedly close to controversial anti-national Kerala minister K T Jaleel who allegedly smuggled gold using Qurans. The accused and Jaleel were active Leftist workers in the Thavanur and Valanchery assembly constituencies in the Malappuram district. Jaleel, the former SIMI/IUML leader, is from Valanchery and is the current MLA from Thavanur. He was a minister in the last communist government and had recently traveled to Kashmir and termed the region as the Pakistanis do. Azad Kashmir. 

Kerala Childline intervened on behalf of the minor rape victim. The administration delayed filing the sexual assault case against Nadakkavil and comfortably registered it just before new police officers were appointed at the station during their reshuffle ahead of the polls. Before Kerala police could question him, Nadakkavil is suspected to have left for Vietnam, moved between Indonesia and Thailand finally reached Malaysia, where he is said to have ‘friends.’ Fugitive Islamist terrorist Zakir Naik (wanted for money laundering and hate speeches in Bharat) now lives comfortably in Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.

Allegations arose against Jaleel that his friendship with the accused delayed proceedings. Jaleel claimed that several people, including Muslim League workers, were spreading rumors against him. He tried the moral high ground and said that even if his son was involved in a crime, he should be punished. He was later forced to resign following nepotism charges, and Keralites were not impressed. Kerala police are yet to find or detain fugitive Nadakkavil. The rich and the powerful are seldom punished, even if they rape minors.

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