Kerala police open a preliminary probe against LDF convenor accused of insulting UDF candidate Ramya Haridas

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On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had requested State Police Chief Loknath Behera to register a case against Mr. Vijayaraghavan.

The Kerala police on Wednesday began a preliminary enquiry into the allegation that the convenor of the Left Democratic Front, A. Vijayaraghavan, had publicly disparaged Remya Haridas, the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate from Alathur Lok Sabha constituency, in a fashion that outraged her modesty as a woman.

DySP-Alathur, Biju Bhaskar, the investigating officer (IO), told The Hindu that the police had not registered a case against Mr Vijayaraghavan so far. He said his task was to weigh the legal soundness of the complaint and find out whether there was any prosecutable evidence that warranted the registration of a First Information Report (FIR). Mr. Bhaskar said he would forward his report to the District Police Chief, Malappuram.

On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had requested State Police Chief Loknath Behera to register a case against Mr. Vijayaraghavan. In his letter, Mr. Ramesh accused the LDF convenor of having outraged the modesty of a Dalit woman. He said the police should also book Mr Vijayaraghava under the provisions of the Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act. Mr. Ramesh also said he would move the Chief Electoral Officer, Kerala, against the alleged violation of the poll code.

Consequently, Mr. Behera transferred the complaint to IG, Kannur Range, Balaram Kumar Upadhyaya, for further action. On her part, Ms. Haridas had called on the IO told him her part of the story.

Mr Vijayaraghavan had found himself in the centre of this controversy when he purportedly remarked that Ms Haridas had called on two Indian Union Muslim League leaders, Panakad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal and P. K. Kunhalikutty, MP, and he could not predict “what would happen to her now.”

The controversy has refused to die down despite Mr Vijayaraghavan’s protestations that vested interests had misinterpreted his comment and it was not his intention to hurt anybody.

Top Congress leaders sought to ratchet the issue on Wednesday, with several stating at election meetings across Kerala that the LDF’s “women’s wall”, and councils for protecting renaissance values were mere lip service to the cause of gender and social equality and its leaders were stuck in a time warp where misogyny and casteist hegemony ruled.

Ms Haridas said she felt impelled to press the case against Mr Vijayaraghavan on behalf of other women whom powerful male authority figures could easily deter by attempting to assassinate their character. She said LDF leaders were no different from conservative forces, which wanted to relegate women, particularly Dalit women, to secondary roles in society. Ms Haridias further added that she felt being lampooned by the LDF campaign in Alathur, through the posters and election songs.

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