Published: 15th April 2020
Palathayi Child Abuse case: After absconding for a month, school teacher arrested for sexually abusing Class 4 student
The school teacher had been absconding for a month following widespread outrage from the opposition and activists over the inability of the police to arrest the accused in time
On April 15, the Kerala Police arrested Kuniyil Padmarajan, an Upper Primary school teacher and BJP leader in Palathayi, Kannur for sexually abusing a student of class 4. The case which was registered on March 17 gathered steam due to severe backlash from student unionists, opposition leaders and activists demanding swift action on the case.
The accused, who is the president of BJP’s local panchayat committee, had been absconding for the past one month and was arrested at a relative’s house. According to a report in Malayala Manorama, a Special Investigation Team will be set up by the state government to probe the POCSO case. It will be headed by 11 experts headed by KV Venugopal, DSP of Thalassery. 11 days following the COVID-19 lockdown, the Childline India helpline reported that received more than 92,000 SOS calls.
A few hours before the arrest, Nandu Parvathy Pradeep, a PhD scholar from English and Foreign Languages University and a social activist wrote on Facebook, “The Palathayi child abuse case accused has to be arrested immediately. The police have gravely violated POCSO guidelines by repeatedly questioning the child. Following the arrest, they must also offer the required counselling to the victim and her family.”
The activist also alleged that child was taken away by the accused during class hours and sexually abused multiple times. She also states that a number of cases have been accused against him previously and that other students were aware of the goings-on. She adds, “This is an extremely grave situation that has been created. The children would also be dealing with trauma and they need attention as well. Since we already have this information, was the school protecting a known sex criminal?”
She continues, “Even if the students were not brave enough to come forward, isn't that a shortcoming on the part of the school to set up a mechanism where they could come forward? A classmate of the victim has even stated, ‘The teacher keeps disturbing us, I wish we could leave the school.’ This is not an isolated event in Palathayi. Many such cases normally do not reach the childline or relevant authorities even though mechanisms have been put in place to report and deal with such instances.” The 11-member SIT team is expected to begin investgating the case immediately.