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Monday, June 5, 2023

Controversial Kerala Women’s Commission head MC Josephine quits after public outcry

MC Josephine, the Kerala Women’s Commission Chairperson was recently forced to resign for unsavory behavior. Though she had a history of bad temperament, this time she crossed all limits and public outcry made her step down. She was handling the top position at the KWC since May 2017 and is also a senior member of the CPM central committee. A controversial stint that began in May 2017, has now ended.

Last week, Josephine attended a live television show hosted by a Malayalam news network, Malayala Manorama. During the show, a victim called in and told Josephine that she was married since 2014 and had no children and alleged she that was being assaulted by both her husband and mother-in-law. Josephine sought to know if the woman had filed a police complaint. When she said that she had not informed anyone, the chairperson immediately responded, “then you suffer”. Her body language reeked of pure arrogance and contempt.

Some also consider this a ploy by Malayala Manorama who deliberately fudged their telephone lines expecting Josephine’s fuse to blow sooner rather than later. Though there were glimpses of impatience from the beginning, ultimately her shoddy nature burst through. 

Bereft of empathy, the women’s commission head asked a victim of domestic violence to wallow in her sorrow! Her behavior on live television went viral on social media and demands started pouring in for her resignation over her insensitive attitude. Clearly, it was public pressure that forced her resignation, but the face-saving Communist propaganda was that the party had ‘punished’ her.  

Even before the Josephine story had died down, another KWC member, ‘Doctor’ Shahida Kamal’s educational qualifications came to the fore. It is alleged that she never cleared her B. Com examinations from St. John’s college in Anchal of Kollam where she attended college. This goes against the affidavit provided when she became a KWC member. 

MC Josephine & ‘Dr’ Shahida Kamal

However, CPM secretary A Vijayaraghavan said that Josephine was not removed by the CPM and that she stepped down after expressing her willingness to quit the post, and that the party accepted it. This overt declaration was done to pacify the coterie of political appointments like Josephine who enjoy similar posts. Josephine might seem to many a cruel, incompetent person but there is good reason to believe that she was specifically planted in a quasi-government organization to protect the CPM’s own interests and its cadre accused of serious crimes against women. 

Though she resigned on the 25th, the KWC site still shows a video of Josephine explaining how they work. She clearly states that during their monthly adalats (hearings) the KWC mainly checks whether victims are faking their stories! 

By late 2017, she proved her anti-Hindu credentials when she opposed her national counterpart, NCW (National Commission for Women) head Rekha Sharma’s comment that forced religious conversions are a reality in Kerala. Rekha said so after visiting Akhila alias Hadiya. Local Popular Front of  India (PFI) workers had converted Akhila to Islam. She was the only daughter of ex-serviceman Asokan, who had gone to Salem, Tamil Nadu to pursue her Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) in 2015. She married Shafin Jehan, a radical Islamist PFI worker with multiple criminal charges against his name.

The marriage was first annulled by Kerala HC and Akhila was reunited with her parents. Investigation by NIA showed that Hadiya was a victim of indoctrination and psychological kidnapping who was brainwashed at the notorious Sathya Sarani, a PFI-linked Islamic education center for neo-converts in Malappuram, and that her marriage was arranged by PFI handlers and not through a matrimony website as claimed by Jehan. However, the HC ruling was overturned just months later by an SC bench which included Justice DY Chandrachud, and where Shafin Jehan was represented by Congress leader Kapil Sibal and other senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Dushyant Dave.

Akhila’s grooming jihad raised several questions both locally and at a national level which drew the NCW into the case. Rekha Sharma said that this ‘marriage’ was another recruitment for the Islamic State’s mission in Syria. Josephine challenged Rekha saying that the national commission was trying to ‘defame’ Kerala’s image at the national level.

The PFI role became apparent soon as they started pumping money to prove in court that Akhila converted to Islam out of her own free will. They spent around 1 crore Rupees towards lawyers fees of the 3 Lutyens’ lawyers mentioned above! Had Askohan (himself a communist) not shown the resistance that he showed, Hadiya might well have ended up like other Keralite converts such as Nimisha Fathima who joined ISIS and is now incarcerated along with her child in a Kabul jail.

In January of this year, a relative of an 89-year-old bedridden lady had called Josephine and the response was a copy of what happened recently. The old lady had been assaulted by a neighbor following which she broke her ribs and her health deteriorated. She was prescribed bed rest for a minimum of six months. The victim had approached the local police but they refused to register a case following which the victim and her family called the KWC, expecting justice. 

The KWC summoned the victim who could barely stand up to come to their office, far away. The relatives called the KWC to know if they could come somewhere nearby and that is what incurred Josephine’s wrath. She questioned why an 89-year-old was filing complaints with the KWC! If the police were not taking the complaint, you should have intimated someone, she said. That KWC was supposed to be that ‘someone’, appointed and paid from the state’s coffers to deal with such cases of crimes against old and vulnerable women, was lost on the arrogant KWC chairperson. 

When the distance and the condition of the lady were intimated, Josephine’s reply was brusque. “It is up to you to choose whether to come or not”, she blurted! The conversation ended with Josephine using a derogatory slang used especially amongst the Christian community to describe ‘coffin dodgers’.

Direct public expenses towards upkeep of such ineffectual commissions have cost Keralites crores. As per media reports, more than half a crore rupees have been spent on Josephine alone from May 2017 till February 2021 (when the RTI was sought): honorarium worth 34,40,000/-, travel bills worth 13,50,000/-, medical reimbursements worth 2,64,000/-, ‘expert fees’ 2,19,000/- and telephone bills 68,000/-. This is on top of all the facilities that such political appointees corner for themselves, like fancy accommodation.

In late 2019, Lucy Kalappurakkal (Kalappura), a Christian nun who was being harassed by the Church hierarchy for protesting against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, had approached the KWC. She was receiving threats and wanted protection from the state. When asked for a response, Josephine had called the nun ‘stupid’. 

Lucy had intimated the National Commission for Women too and they had responded to her cries for help but no help came from Lucy’s own state. Josephine’s love for the Pope and her communism seemed to be in conflict with each other, when she shamelessly backed the Vatican’s decision to expel the nun. The question did arise whether Josephine reports to the government or to the Vatican.

In 2018, a local CPM MLA, PK Sasi was suspended for six months by the ruling CPI (M) government after a woman Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) (the CPM youth front) leader accused Sasi of sexually abusing her. Rather than beat around the bush, Josephine openly admitted that there was no need for the commission to investigate the matter. She claimed that her party, the CPM, was both a court and a police station! Josephine’s statement was clearly a mockery of our legal system, but no action was initiated against her. 

Then there is the negligence that the KWC presented towards the Walayar case victims. Two minor Dalit girls aged just 13 and 9 were allegedly raped and murdered in 2017. The accused were all CPM cadre and one was Nidhin Kanichery s/o Rasheed Kanichery; Nidhin is none other than CPM ex-MP and current MLA M.B. Rajesh’s brother-in-law. They were all let off by the POCSO court for ‘lack of evidence’, with the judge delivering a light rebuke over the shoddy investigation. Shockingly, a lawyer who CPM had nominated to Palakkad Child Welfare Committee actually defended one of the accused in the case.

While the KWC did make some noise over the way the case was investigated, Josephine washed her hands off the matter by saying the commission cannot intervene since it is a POCSO case. Worse was to follow.

After the acquittal in Oct 2019, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairman Priyank Kanoongo asked his team to register a suo motu case. On the very day that NCPCR member Yashwant Jain had flown down from New Delhi to hear the girls’ parents, the state took the parents of the dead children to Thiruvananthapuram to meet the Chief Minister. Jain waited for a couple of days at Walayar but the state did not allow the parents of the victims to come back.

So, while the KWC neglected the victim family, the CPM government tried everything in their scope to get the criminals acquitted. Public outcry and a plea by the victims’ mother led to the Kerala HC asking CBI to reinvestigate the case earlier this year. The conspiracy behind the destruction of evidence has gone so deep that it now seems the accused rapists & killers will be freed, again. The disturbed mother Bhagyavathi even tonsured her head and decided to contest against Vijayan in the recent Kerala polls, to lodge her protest.

Back in 2019, CPM Secretary A. Vijayaraghavan, a sexist in his own right had this to say about a Congress Dalit lady candidate from Alathur parliamentary constituency, Ramya Haridas. “She visited (PK) Kunhalikutty after her candidature was announced. I don’t know what will happen to her now!” He was addressing a CPM poll convention at Malappuram and received wild applause from his party cadre. 

Keralites understood that he was indirectly hinting at the infamous ice cream parlor sex racket in the 1990s in which Indian Union Muslim League leader PK Kunhalikutty and several others had allegedly sexually exploited underage girls. Kunhalikutty was later cleared by courts. This didn’t surprise many since Kunhalikutty’s own brother-in-law Rauf had clearly said that they had bribed the judges handling the case. Kunhalikutty and Rauf are married to two sisters.

MC Josephine had nothing to say about this derogatory comment on a Dalit woman politician by her party comrade.

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