The mother of the two Walayar girls — who is also contesting as an independent candidate against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadom — has filed a complaint with the Election Commissioner. She says that social media has been buzzing since last night with posts picturing her as a perpetrator in the rape and murder of her two children.
She adds that the posts, which demeans her character in the public light, have been spread throughout social media in such a way that she neither had the time nor space to address the issue. According to reports, the social media allegations find their source in a Facebook post published by Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi.
In his post, Harish alleges that the mother of the girls was aware of the crime and had changed her statements multiple times throughout the investigation. He also alleges that she had an affair with one of the accused even after the incident, and he cites the statement of a friend of the eldest victim who claimed that the mother was aware of her child being raped. He added that if the CBI investigated the case under the strict guidelines of the POCSO Act, then the mother would be charged with the others for “not stopping the cruelty against her children”, “for not informing the police”, and “for helping the accused”.
Interestingly, the report makes no mention of any of Harish’s claims. The friend mentions that the victim informed her about being sexually abused, but the report doesn’t claim that the mother was aware of the incident. The order says, “…the victim said that the accused in this case also had behaved towards her in an unfair manner and she was reluctant, if not scared, to inform about the violations to her mother.” Moreover, the friend deposed that she did not disclose the information given by the deceased to anyone since she had promised her to keep it a secret.
While Harish praises DySP Sojan for his efforts in the investigations, he fails to enumerate the times Sojan was accused of botching the investigation, and there were plenty of strong points to address as well. The former public prosecutor of the case Jalaja Madhavan accused the police of failing miserably to build a strong case. She pointed out the problems in putting suicide in the FIR despite there being enough circumstantial evidence to murder. Sojan had also disregarded the post mortem evidence, which had indicated sexual assault and the possibility of murder.
However, what invites more criticism to Harish’s post is his statement about the apparent condition of the house. “Materials on record clearly indicate that the poor girls living in an unsafe family environment. We are able to visualise the predicament in which the unfortunate children could have been placed; whom to be trusted?” Harish quoted the order. However, Dalit activists pointed out that this is the same argument that they have been trying to make.
“Dalit women and girls are not safe inside and outside our homes. We don’t get justice, even if anything is to happen to us. Instead, efforts will be taken by others to blame us and our families. This is how they exclude us from being 'India's daughter',” said Arathi MR, who is an independent journalist and Research Assistant at the University of Wisconsin. They also argue that Harish’s post takes the form of victim-blaming language, whereby the mother is blamed for the problems that happened to her children. ‘The state, prosecution and police failed only because the mother failed at her duties’ is the kind of narrative reasoning appropriated by the commenters that rallied under Harish’s post to support him.
Moreover, the post’s opponents point out that Harish also resorts to the tired cliché of the ‘sexually loose Dalit woman’ to motivate his narrative even further. However, they add that Harish has no right to neither question the choices of the mother nor play the role of a moral guardian. They explain that such claims lead to public and media trials that not only affect her public life but also that of her family. This is more prevalent in the case of Dalit victims, as the critics point out that the privileges enjoyed by the upper caste are not applicable here.
They add that if the mother has anything to do with the crime, then she should be punished as well but it makes no sense to blame one individual to absolve the sins of the state to secure justice for two young girls; to glorify a police officer and minimise the prosecution’s abysmal failure.