Around 50 protesters gathered outside the Kerala Assembly today, demanding the resignation of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien over allegations that he was among 42 men who raped a woman from Suryanelli. Police used water cannons on the crowd when they tried to break through the police barriers.
The rape survivor has alleged that Mr Kurien raped her in 1996. "I have been repeatedly telling the police from the beginning that PJ Kurien raped me in the Kumli Guest House. Nobody has forced me to take his name, neither any association nor any politician," she says.
But Mr Kurien has steadfastly denied the allegations. "I am the one who has been wronged... My conscience is clear and the case is a political one," he earlier told NDTV.
Mr Kurien was exonerated by the Supreme Court and multiple investigations by the Kerala police. But the woman says his political standing manoeuvred an exit for him. The Supreme Court had earlier this month ordered a retrial of the Suryanelli case.
The clamour for PJ Kurien's resignation has since been growing, especially by the Left. The Congress, with just weeks to go before the budget session of Parliament begins, will have to soon take a decision on Mr Kurien.
The gang-rape survivor's mother, in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has said it would be a travesty for Mr Kurien to chair discussions on new anti-rape laws introduced by the cabinet which need to be cleared by Parliament.