PJ Kurien meets Pope in Rome: Suryanelli rape victim’s mother cries foul

NDTV, 19-03-2013 15:40:00

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PJ Kurien meets Pope in Rome: Suryanelli rape victim’s mother cries foul

Kochi: PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, today met Pope Francis at his inauguration in Rome today. Mr Kurien is the leader of India’s delegation for the inauguration, despite questions about his alleged role in the gang-rape of a teenager in 1996.

Reacting to Mr Kurien’s visit to Rome, the rape victim’s mother said, it is for "sinners like us to stay away and for puritans like him to meet the pope."

The Catholic victim, then a 16-year-old schoolgirl, has accused Mr Kurien of being one of 42 men who raped her after she was abducted and kept in custody for 40 days in the southern state of Kerala.

Mr Kurien, now 72, was acquitted of rape in a trial in 2005. But he has come under new pressure after his accuser demanded a fresh investigation following a storm over the deadly gang-rape of a student in New Delhi last December.

A lower court rejected her petition for a new inquiry. But the resurfacing of the allegations has embarrassed the ruling Congress party, which promised to crack down on sex crimes after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a moving bus in Delhi in December.

Controversy had broken out in the hometown of the victim when the Father of the church they attend had advised the family to stay away from the church proceedings till the ’issues were sorted out’. Speaking to NDTV, the father of the victim has said, "The priest told me, ’Now you are coming on TV channels regularly, your face is shown, people know you.’ He advised me that it is better not to come to church for a period of time." The church had maintained that it had its arms open to all and made no differentiation.

However, matters between the church and the family were reconciled after talks were held with the initiative of activists.

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