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Satan's Own Country

Sex scandals sweep across the tiny state of Kerala with seasonal regularity. Tales of sexual exploitation and flesh trade keep recurring. Beneath the beauty flows muck.




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It can't be God's own country, by any stretch of imagination. The sex scandals sweeping the tiny state of Kerala have convinced me of this. God left that country long time back. Hormones have taken over.

The sexual exploitation saga in the state started with the Suryanelli case. In 1996, in the Suryanelli village in the backward district of Idukki in Kerala, a minor girl was lured by a bus conductor and abducted. Subsequently, she was transferred to two others, one of whom a woman and the other a lawyer. 

She was presented to the high and mighty in the state's socio-political spectrum and raped by several persons before she was let off. The 16-year-old student's sorry story started on January 16, 1996 and ended on February 26, a period during which was she was raped by about 43 persons. She was ferried across the state in the flesh market. Her captors gave her a small amount of money before leaving and threatened her with dire consequences if she told anyone about what had happened

The tale shocked Kerala's consciousness, or so we thought. The society erupted in indignation and there were cries for blood. The names of several big shots in the state figured in the scandal. The case dragged on for four years, and the ruling Left Democratic Front set up a special court to try the offenders. Finally, in what was considered as exemplary and deterrent judgment, out of the 39 accused, 35 were convicted. One of the accused died during the period. The last to be sentenced was advocate Dharmarajan, who was among the initial abductors. He was in hiding for long, but was finally captured and delivered to justice. Dharmarajan got a life term.

Just when the Suryanelli dust was settling down, the Vithura sex scandal blew up. Vithura, again, is a small village near Thiruvananthpuram, the state's capital. It involves a minor who was taken around Kerala and Tamil Nadu and raped repeatedly. The Vithura victim was also minor, lured by a woman in her neighbourhood in to the flesh trade. 

A prominent name figuring in the case is noted talented Malayalam comedian Jagati Sreekumar. The speedy trial of the Suryanelli case by the special court has led to a clamour from women activists for the trial of all major sex cases in the special court. But investigation in the case still drags on.

If novelty was the need of the hour, leave it to an ice-cream parlour. The "ice-cream parlour scandal" blew up years later, where an ice-cream parlour in Kozhikode in North Kerala was used as a front-end for flesh trade and lure girls into it. Again, allegations of sexual exploitation of minors came up. One of the prominent names in the ice-cream parlour case was PK Kunjalikuty, the state's former minister from the Muslim League. Political affiliations have never been a hindrance to lust and comrades from Marxist party also were named in the case. The investigation still drags on.

On October 5, 1997 a minor lodged a complaint at the Kothamangalam police station alleging that she was sexually exploited by more than 100 persons (43 of them identified by the police) over the years. It was a neighbourhood youth who first "handed over" the girl, promising a job, to a financial institution. She was sexually exploited by a number of persons in Kothamangalam. A middle-aged woman to whom the victim confided her tale of woe took the victim to Thiruvananthapuram promising a job and the girl landed in a sex racket there. As part of the racket, she was taken to various places in the State including Kalamassery, Aluva, Neriamangalam, Kattappana, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram. After almost a year of sexual exploitation, she was dumped near her house at Kothamangalam. The final judgement on the case still awaited.

A hilarious aside popped up in the meantime. Neelalohithadasan Nadar (Neelan for short) was Kerala state Forests Minister when he tried to molest Deputy Forest Conservator Prakriti Srivastava at the Nilambur Guest House. Prakriti did not make an issue of it then. That must have emboldened Neelan. He later became Transport minister, and tried to molest Nalini Netto, the then transport secretary. Netto did not remain silent, but filed a case against Neelan. That spurred Prakriti also to move for justice. The Prakriti Srivasatava case dragged on for some time and finally, the judgement came in September 2004, when he was sentenced to a one-year imprisonment. Neelan, obviously, filed an appeal. We are yet to hear the end of the case. Verdict in the Netto case is not yet out. 

By now, we are convinced that there is no end to Kerala's sordid sex saga, and are eagerly awaiting the next one. Kerala did not disappoint us. The Kiliroor sex scandal reared it head last month, when a minor girl near the Kottayam district (incidentally, the country's first fully literate district) complained to the police last month accusing a woman of trapping her after promising a role in a TV serial. The girl alleged that Latha Nair had exploited her for the past two years presenting her to the high and mighty in business and politics. The suicide of an entire family -- temple priest Narayanan Nampoothiri, his wife and three children - which was reportedly close to the prime accused in the case gave it an unexpected twist. The investigating officer has been fired for unexplained changed and contradictions in the case diary and alterations made to the original complaint. The Kerala high Court has already made sharp observations about this. The prime accused has already surrendered.

If you thought the Malayali's sexual desperation couldn’t fathom deeper pits, here is a tale-ender: At the Kozhikode Medical College, about a year back, a young woman was brought to the hospital with 75% burns -- she had attempted suicide -- and was under clinical care. One of our Kerala comrades, who were supposed to take care of the woman, raped the woman when she was taken to a bath. Beat that.



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