Sex scandal probe against Kerala Minister frozen

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on June 19, 2011

The investigation into the infamous ice cream parlour sex scandal, in which Congress ally Muslim League’s general secretary and Kerala Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty is allegedly involved, has practically frozen. No action worth mentioning has taken place in the probe since the Congress-led UDF came to power exactly a month ago.

The last act of the police in connection with the probe was to question the two former High Court judges accused of issuing verdicts favouring Kunhalikutty in cases related to the sex scandal, as back as on May 6. Kunhalikutty was sworn in Minister on May 18 and the special investigation team probing the case has not made any efforts to take the probe ahead since then.

Observers describe the development as a typical case of how investigations into serious allegations can be sabotaged when men facing accusations become participants in the Government. Kunhalikutty had been forced to resign as industries minister from the previous UDF government in 2004 over the same scandal.

Sources in the Kerala Police said that they did not expect the investigation to progress now with the very man facing charges becoming one of the most powerful ministers in the Government headed by Oommen Chandy, who had stood behind Kunhalikutty when serious allegations pertaining to the scandal were leveled against him in January last.

Kunhalikutty is facing the allegation that he had sexually abused a minor girl, with connections to an ice cream parlour in Kozhikode, on three different occasions 15 years ago and that he had kept himself free of cases by bribing the victim and witnesses in the case. The victim, Rejina, had first given statements against Kunhalikutty in the court but later changed them.

Sources pointed out that the investigation had ended practically since the police official in charge of it had been transferred out of Kozhikode where the case against Kunhalikutty was registered in January. The Government transferred the official, Kozhikode City Police Commissioner Anup Kuruvila John, to Kannur as Superintendent of Police last week.

“The investigation is on technically and he has not been removed from the charge. But nothing is going to be investigated now,” said a top police official. “Anup John is now in Kannur and there is no way he can continue the probe.” he said. The special probe team was headed by ADGP Vincent M Paul.

Immediately after the announcement of the election result which favoured the UDF, a top Muslim League leader had stated that the probe into the ice cream parlour sex scandal would be revoked “legally”. Kunhalikutty had emerged stronger than ever after the election, in which he led his party to a huge victory – the Muslim League won 20 of the 24 seats it contested.

The former LDF Government headed by VS Achuthanandan had launched the probe after Kozhikode-based businessman KA Rauf claimed that he had evidences to prove that Kunhalikutty had bought his freedom from the scandal by making the victims and witnesses change their statements against him by bribing and threatening them.

Rauf, a close relative of Kunhalikutty and his trusted aide when he was minister earlier, also charged that he had earned favourable verdicts by bribing (former) High Court judges KT Thankappan and K Narayana Kurup. The investigation team had questioned the two former judges on May 6.

Achuthanandan, who led the LDF in the Assembly election, had made the ice cream parlour sex scandal a big campaign issue, which was partly the reason for the UDF’s tally in the House getting limited to just one seat above what was needed for absolute majority.

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