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Jan 09, 2013 at 08:52am IST

1996 Suryanelli case: 16-year-old raped by over 40 men still awaits justice

New Delhi: It has been a 16-year long wait for justice in the Suryanelli rape case that rocked Kerala, where a girl was raped by over 40 men. The victim's father says, "Till date I didn't get any justice from anybody. So I boldly go after justice. I will fight till my last breath."

Years after his daughter was brutally raped, allegedly by over 40 people, the old man says he no longer expect justice will be done. "I don't understand why we are being denied justice. Maybe it is because the people we were fighting are much more powerful. They can influence anyone. They also have political contacts. We have none," says the father.

In 1996, in Suryanelli, bordering the tea gardens of Munnar, a teenaged girl was raped by a bus conductor and many others. Faced with ostracisation, the victim's family had to leave the village. "Even the tourists visiting Suryanelli did not spare us. Can you imagine guides bringing tourists to our house and saying this is the house of the raped Suryranelli girl. It was terrible. With no one to support, life was hell there. So we sold our house and left the place," says the father.

Though the Sessions Court found 35 of the accused guilty, the Kerala High Court in 2005 acquitted all but one of the accused - a judgment that shocked the family. The father adds, "We have no choice but to accept the verdict of the court. Justice is still denied to us and right from the beginning. I am fully aware of that. That is why we have now approached the Supreme Court, because we want justice. That is it, nothing else. What have we done to anyone to suffer so much?"

The rape survivor now works as a peon in a government office but her father says the tag never leaves her. "16 years we have fought for this case but nothing came out of it. Why should we raise an issue again? To whom should we complain? What is the guarantee that we will get justice," asks the victim's father.

Today he is forced to regret that he stood up for his daughter. "For the more than five years we lived under police protection. Otherwise we would not have been alive. Can you imagine that life? We have suffered so much for 16 years. Maybe I would not have gone for a case, if i knew this will happen," says the helpless father.

Almost two decades have passed but the father still fights for justice for his own daughter. But perhaps the sad part is that atleast for a few of us it took the courage and suffering of a brave heart from Delhi to recognise even this father's efforts. Now one can only hope that justice is done soon.

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