Fr George Panakkal – Kunhalikutty’s Middleman in Kothamangalam Sex Scam

published on February 15, 2011

Sex scandals give jitters to Kerala’s Cong-led front
VR Jayaraj | Kochi

Revelations coming out on a day-to-day basis on infamous sex scandals have put Kerala’s Congress-led UDF coalition in a difficult position due to alleged involvement of a heavyweight leader from the front in them just when it is preparing for the Assembly polls which it was tipped to win comfortably till recently.

PK Kunhalikutty, former minister and general secretary of UDF constituent Muslim League, is already facing a police case over the sensational ice cream parlour sex scandal in which he was allegedly involved. On Tuesday, Home Minister Kodiyeri said the police would also probe the sex scandal of Kothamangalam. Charges have been raised against Kunhalikutty in this scandal also.

Kodiyeri said in Kannur that the special investigation team headed by ADGP Vincent M Paul, which was probing the new revelations in the ice cream parlour sex scandal, would look into the Kothamangalam case also. However, the team would be expanded with the inclusion of Inspector General (Central) R Sreelekha, he said.

The probe into the Kothamangalam sex scandal of 1997 is being launched in the context of the revelation by businessman KA Rauf, co-brother of Kunhalikutty, that the former minister had made the victim of the sex abuse withdraw her complaint against him by paying Rs 15 lakh. A former Union minister of the Congress is also said to have been involved in this scandal.

Rauf had earlier “revealed” that Kunhalikutty had escaped trial in the ice cream parlour sex scandal by paying lakhs of rupees to the victims, witnesses and others and by earning favorable court verdicts by bribing High Court judges. He said that two former High Court judges had taken a total of Rs 40 lakh from Kunhalikutty to issue verdicts in his favour in the sex abuse case.

The special investigation team had quizzed Kunhalikutty last weekend in connection with this revelation by Rauf. However, the former minister had maintained that he had not been summoned for questioning but he had approached the police on his own to hand over certain proofs against Rauf.

In relation to the Kothamangalam sex scandal, Rauf had said that Kunhalikutty had paid money to Fr George Panakkal of a Christian retreat centre in Chalakudy, Thrissur where the girl involved in it had stayed, in order to settle the issue. Fr Panakkal has served a legal notice on Rauf for this.

The girl, who was sexually abused by more than 100 men in nine places since she was 14 years of age, had reportedly told the court that a former minister had abused her at Thiruvananthapuram. The allegation against Kunhalikutty is that he had made her change this statement.

Rejina, the victim in the ice cream parlour sex scandal and a witness in that case, had given a statement in the court saying that Kunhalikutty had sexually abused her in 1996 when she was a minor. She had repeated this charge later on a TV programme. However, she changed this statement and turned hostile when the case reached the court.

Congress leaders are worried that the recurring revelations against Kunhalikutty in sex scandals and the subsequent police investigations would spoil the UDF’s prospects in the coming Assembly polls. The ice cream scandal had contributed heavily to the UDF’s setback in the 2006 Assembly polls and “it now seems that scandal and others could trouble us this time as well,” said a senior Congress leader.

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