Kochi: Riot police fired water cannon yesterday at hundreds of protesters in Kerala demanding the resignation of a lawmaker over allegations he raped a schoolgirl 17 years ago.
P J Kurien, 72, the Deputy Speaker of the Upper House of Parliament, was acquitted of rape in a trial in 2005 but he has come under new pressure after his accuser demanded a fresh probe in the wake of the storm over a deadly gang rape in Delhi in December.
The resurrection of the allegations have embarrassed the ruling Congress party, which promised to get tough on sex attackers in the wake of the Delhi gangrape.
Demonstrators have been camping outside the state assembly for the last five days to demand Kurien’s resignation, and managed to stall proceedings by preventing local lawmakers from entering the building.
“It’s a disgrace for India and the women of this country that Kurien can chair a debate on laws to protect women,” V S Achuthanandan, Kerala’s veteran Communist party leader, said.
The alleged victim’s mother has written to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to urge her to sack Kurien, who has been a lawmaker in Kerala for the last 19 years.
Kurien says the accusations are part of a politically-driven media smear campaign.
“I’ve been exonerated by the Supreme Court and acquitted after three police investigations,” Kurien said.
Meanwhile in the capital New Delhi, a judge yesterday summoned a federal lawmaker over allegations that he ordered the abduction of a minor who was later raped.
Six policemen held for looting in Dhule riots
Mumbai: Six Maharashtra Police personnel and four civilians were arrested yesterday for looting and vandalism during the January 6 communal riots in the state’s Dhule town which left five dead and scores injured, a police official said.
“Four State Reserve Police Force personnel and two Maharashtra Police officials have been arrested, besides four civilians, for their involvement in the riots,” a police official said.
They have been charged with vandalising property, looting, among other things during the riots in which around 110 police personnel and over a hundred civilians were injured.