Effort on to project Abhaya case arrests as CBI-police row

published on November 24, 2008

Pioneer News Service | Kottayam

as the very foundations of the Kottayam-based Knanaya Church, one of
the several denominations under the Catholic Church headed by the
Vatican, are shaking under the shock waves created by the CBI findings
in the Sr Abhaya murder case, reports speak of efforts to project the
case as one of a confrontation between the CBI and the Kerala Police.

section in the Kerala Police has reportedly started efforts to justify
its stand on the case, which saw Sr Abhaya’s death as a case of
suicide, in the face of the grave situation the Knanaya Church is in
with the arrest of two of its senior priests and a nun by the CBI on
the charge of culpable homicide. The Kerala Police, like any other
State police, had never liked the CBI playing in its jurisdiction as
this supposedly proved the State force’s inefficiency.

police’s effort now is to disprove the CBI claim that most of the
crucial evidences about the murder — which the police was convinced was
suicide — were destroyed by the local police and the State Crime Branch
police which probed the case initially. Since the CBI took over the
case 13 years ago, the Central agency had several times complained
about this and had even subjected a local police official to
narco-analysis on this suspicion, but the State police still claimed
that there had not been any such tampering.

Initially, the local
police investigated the case and wrote it off as suicide, based on the
postmortem report. It was believed that they were forced to destroy key
evidences such as SR Abhaya’s clothes, personal diary and other
belongings during the investigation due to external influences. Then
Kottayam West ASI VV Augustine was in 2007 subjected to narco-test.

Abhaya was murdered on March 27,1992 at St Pius X Convent, Kottayam,
where she was an inmate. On April 7, 1992, the Director General of
Police directed the Crime Branch to take up the investigation due to
relentless protests by the action council formed to demand probe into
the murder.

The Crime Branch submitted its report before the
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (RDO) on January 30, 1993. However, the Crime
Branch had nothing more to say than what was explained by the local
police as they too had reached the conclusion that she had committed

Former State Director General of Police KJ Joseph, who
was then a Deputy Inspector General, told a pro-Church newspaper the
other day that the police had produced all the evidences it had got in
the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Kottayam. He questioned the CBI
argument that evidences had been destroyed asking how evidences given
to the court could be destroyed, especially as these could be examined
only with the judiciary’s permission.

Joseph told the newspaper
that the Crime Branch had got no evidence to suspect that Sr Abhaya’s
death was a case of murder. He said the CJM Court, Kottayam, had in
1993 agreed to the Crime Branch finding that Sr Abhaya’s death was a
case of suicide. In a direct dig at the CBI, the former DGP said he
could not say for sure whether the CBI had got any new evidences for
proving that it was a case of murder because it had not said anything
about the proofs even after arresting three church personalities on the
charge of homicide.

Expressions of doubts like this would lead
to a confrontation between the State police and the CBI could affect
the very proceedings of the CBI in the investigations, said legal
experts. Also, such campaigns could be used to force the judiciary see
the case in a different perspective, they pointed out.

father Thomas Areekkara, Abhaya Action Council convener Jomon
Puthenpurakkal, former CBI DySP Thomas P Varghese who resigned from
service frustrated over the alleged pressures on him not to be
enthusiastic about the case, and the CBI itself had repeatedly said
that there were efforts to sabotage the case, including destruction of
evidence, from the very beginning.

There were doubts that the
post-mortem report itself was a manipulated one. The CBI had
established that the report of the chemical analysis on Sr Abhaya’s
internal organs had been tampered with at the Government laboratory in
Thiruvananthapuram. Thomas P Varghese had alleged that even the then
Prime Minister’s office had intervened in the case. Jomon Puthepurakkal
even alleged that former State Minister and chairman of the Kerala
Congress (M), a party known to be existing for safeguarding the
interests of the church and settler farmers, had tried to derail the
investigations into the Sr Abhaya case.

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