Kerala in 2009
Sister Abhaya murder case made headlines in the state as well as in the national media.
Ritesh K Srivastava
Sister Abhaya murder case
Sister Abhaya murder case made headlines in the state as well as in the national media. A 21-year-old inmate of Pious X hostel near Kochi, Sister Abhaya was found dead in the well of convent on March 27, 1992. As the local police and Kerala Crime Branch failed to make any headway, CBI probe was ordered on March 29, 1993. The CBI in it inquiry concluded that the death was a homicide but the murderer remained untraced.
However, public interest in the case re-ignited in April last year after a newspaper published the report that Abhaya`s medical reports were tampered with at a chemical laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram.
The CBI later arrested two priests Father Thomas Kottor, Father Joes Phthrukayil and a Sister Abey in this connection. The legal wrangling continues as Sister Abey moved the Delhi High Court seeking action against CBI officials who forced her to undergo virginity test last year.
Nun`s book exposes Catholic Church
At a time when the Catholic Church in Kerala was passing through a difficult phase following the arrest of two nuns in the Sister Abhaya case, a book revealing the darker side of the Catholic Church was released. Penned by Sister Jesme, former nun and an English Professor and the Principal of a church-run college in Thrissur, the book became an instant hit soon after it hit the stalls.
Written in Malayalam and titled ‘Amen’ (so be it), the nun had shared her `harrowing` experiences during her 30-year long association with the church in her memoirs. She had alleged sexual abuse, corruption and power struggles in the `dark confines` of convents. The church is yet to officially respond to the tell-all reminiscences of the 52-year-old Jesme.
Vijayan’s indictment in Lavlin case
The controversy over CPM general secretary Pinnarayi Vijayan’s indictment in the multi-crore SNC Lavalin graft case brought major embarrassment for the Kerala unit at a time when it was grappling with electoral debacles. Vijayan was made the ninth accused in the case after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India confirmed a huge fraud in the deal.
The CAG report alleged that Vijayan had struck the deal as State Electricity Minister in 1998 with Lavalin, a Canadian firm, for the repair of three generators, was a huge fraud and had cost the state exchequer a staggering Rs 3.76 billion.
Subsequently, the Kerala High Court ordered a CBI probe into the matter on January 16, 2007. The CBI has filed a progress report in the Kerala High Court January 21 this year.
Under the party pressure, the state government decided to halt Vijayan’s prosecution. But overruling the cabinet recommendation, Governor RS Gavai allowed the CBI to prosecute Vijayan. Maintaining that the case was politically motivated, the CPM announced that it would knock at the higher court.
V S vs Vijayan
The state witnessed a tug-of-war between Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and CPI (M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan after latter’s indictment in the SNC Lavlin graft case. The bitter squabbling affected the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
The ruling Left Democratic Front, which has won 19 of the state`s 20 seats in the last Lok Sabha, could win only four seats.
Achuthanandan came face to face with the party general secretary Prakash Karat, who extended support to Vijayan saying the latter was framed in the case. Achuthanandan even annoyed the party high command as he wanted to initiate action against Vijayan.