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After protests, Kerala local BJP leader arrested for allegedly raping his student

Facebook pages of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister KK Shailaja have been flooded with comments slamming the government for the delay in arrest.

Kannur police on Wednesday arrested a school teacher, who is also a local BJP leader, for allegedly raping a class four girl. The arrest comes after various organisations and political parties came out expressing disappointment that the man had not been arrested despite the complaint being registered a month ago.

Padmarajan K, president of BJP’s Thrippangottur local committee in Kannur, was accused of raping a class four student of his school, in the months of January and February.

Despite the Panoor police station officials charging a case against him on March 17 on the basis of a complaint filed by the child’s parents, he was not arrested.

Protests against the delay by police in arresting the man intensified in the last few days. From CPI(M), which leads the ruling Left government in the state, to Minister KK Shailaja who heads the Social Justice department, many came out slamming the police for the delay.

According to reports, the girl had given a statement to police that the man, her teacher, called her to the school on a holiday in January, saying that there was some extra curricular work, and allegedly sexually assaulted her after taking her to the toilet. The girl has also stated to police that the man threatened to kill her if she spoke about the incident to anyone else.

Thalasseri Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Venugopalan KV, told TNM that the accused has been arrested under sections 376 (Punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code and section 5 (Aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and section 6 (Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Protest over police inaction

The delay by the police in arresting a man during the lockdown period, when there was less opportunity for a person to flee, had irked people.

On Tuesday, KK Shailaja, Minister for Health, Social Justice and Woman and Child Development, slammed the police saying they should not exploit the good will enjoyed by the police department.

Forums like Justice for Walayar Kids also came out condemning the delay in arrest.

The Facebook pages of Minister Shailaja, who is the MLA of Kuthuparamba assembly constituency which includes Pannor municipality, and Chief Minister Pinarayai Vijayan, was flooded with comments slamming the police and government in the delay shown in the arrest.

“There is only 15 Km distance to Palathayi (place in Panoor) from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s native place. It also comes under the constituency of Minister KK Shailaja, who is said to be the most talented minister in the government. The place is not even three kilometres from the house of former minister KP Mohanan. But none of them have heard the cries of justice from a nine year old. It is scary that police have not yet found him despite there being a POCSO case,” read one comment posted on KK Shaijala’s Facebook post on COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, after the arrest on Wednesday, DySP Venugopalan KV told the media that arrest was delayed due to lockdown.

“The inquiry was progressing smoothly, but then due to lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak, we could not focus on the case. That is why arrest got delayed. We held raids in all the places where he could possibly go. Yesterday night we got information that he could be in a particular house and likewise we raided there and found him,” he said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday shielded the police force and claimed they are not at fault.

“Police had registered a case and had been investigating, arrest was made today. Some people were trying to hide him. I do not believe that there is a lapse,” said Pinarayi Vijayan.

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