Ruling, opposition spar in Kerala Assembly over atrocities against women, children

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 10 (PTI) Kerala Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes on Wednesday as the opposition targeted the Kerala government over "increasing" atrocities against women and children in the state, alleging that they were protecting CPI(M) activists and sympathisers involved in such cases.

The Congress-led UDF listed a number of shocking incidents of atrocities against women and children reported in the state in recent times, in the majority of which the Left workers or sympathisers were named as accused.

Strongly rejecting the charges, the LDF government claimed that stringent measures were taken against the accused in all these cases and made it clear that they would not spare anyone involved in crimes against women and children.

Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was expected to give a reply to a notice for adjournment motion moved by RMP MLA K K Rema, Veena George gave the answer in the House in her capacity as the minister for Women and Child Development.

The House witnessed an intense war of words between Rema, known for her sharp oratory skills, and George while detailing the harrowing experiences of women and the action taken by the police in each case.

The UDF legislator particularly pointed out the brutal assault suffered by a 19-year-old Dalit woman, allegedly by a CPI(M) local worker, for questioning his attack against her younger siblings in Poochakkal in Alappuzha district a few days ago.

"The prime accused was not arrested as he is a CPI(M) activist. The government's approach is that if a partyman is accused in such a case, he will be protected," she alleged.

The woman legislator also mentioned the alleged posting of morphed photos of over 20 college students on social media by one of their seniors and a former leader of SFI, the student outfit of the ruling CPI(M).

She accused the government and the CPI(M) of taking a stand to protect a Left syndicate member of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) when he had faced an allegation of misbehaving with a girl student recently.

Rema also criticised the government and the police over the recent complaints of a number of teenage girls who had raised molestation charges against a coach of the Kerala Cricket Association.

"The government has failed to ensure protection for even tiny children in the state. It is a state being ruled by the Left government," she said amidst an intense war of words between ruling and opposition members in the House.

Taking a dig at the Vijayan government, she said all these were happening in the "number one" state of Kerala.

She also urged the government to set up fast-track courts for the trial of atrocities against children.

Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, V D Satheesan, also vehemently criticised the government over the issue and accused the authorities and the police of showing bias in cases involved by CPI(M) workers.

"The government should take stringent measures to end the increasing atrocities against women and children in the state. In many such cases, workers of (CPI-M) were the accused. But, the government is protecting them," he alleged.

He also wanted the government to close down the local police station where the Dalit woman of Poochakkal had lodged a complaint seeking protection for her life.

The law enforcers had done nothing over her complaint, even 48 hours after she lodged it, and that was the reason for the brutal assault she had suffered on a public road, Satheesan further charged.

However, Venna George outrightly rejected all the charges levelled by the opposition and made it clear that police had registered cases in all these incidents, and the accused were arrested.

"The government has only one stand on this issue... Stringent action will be taken against the accused. Everybody (cutting across politics) should stand united over the matter," she said.

The minister said the pain of each woman is the pain of everyone in society, and that's why the government is taking a tough stand in such cases.

She also accused the Congress of protecting party workers involved in harassing women via social media platforms and said she herself was a victim of such cyberbullying during the time of the Puthuppally bypoll.

As Speaker A N Shamseer rejected leave for the motion based on the minister's reply, the UDF members staged a walkout from the House. PTI LGK KH

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