A week after the shocking incident where a 15-year-old girl was allegedly sexually abused by a Kerala Imam in Thiruvananthapuram, a case has been registered against the latter. The case was registered at the Vithura police station in Nedumangad, Thiruvananthapuram, on Tuesday based on a complaint by Badusha, President of the Tholicode Muslim Mosque.
This is the mosque where the accused had been Chief Imam before the incident came to light. He was suspended from his position as Chief Imam and from the Kerala Imam’s council in which he was a member, after the incident was reported.
“We have not yet filed an FIR. We just received the complaint and hence have not updated the sections,” officers from the Vithura police station told TNM.
The decision to file a complaint was taken after the mosque members launched a probe into the incident to find out the truth. However, following the incident, the victim and the family refused to give their statements or file a complaint.
Meanwhile, the accused Imam has moved the Kerala high court for anticipatory bail, according to reports.
Earlier this month, the accused Imam Shafiq Al Qassimi is alleged to have lured a minor school girl to an isolated, forested area in the district’s Vithura region where he sexually abused her. Several witnesses have confirmed the incident and an audio clip released by Badusha, President of the Tholicode Muslim Mosque, details the accounts of these witnesses, which was revealed after members of the mosque launched a probe.
This is the first case that has been registered against the accused Imam and comes over a week after the alleged incident, during which time several witnesses were ready to give their statements.
Speaking to TNM, Thiruvananthapuram Rural SP P Ashok Kumar said, “A suo motu case can only be taken by the police if an officer is witness to the said crime. In this case, no police officers have witnessed it and hence we cannot act on our cognisance.”
The victim was initially in the care of Childline and was counselled and later shifted to a shelter home. She then rejoined her family who came to pick her up.
Chairman of Centre for Film Gender and Culture Studies, a Thiruvananthapuram-based group working for gender justice and child rights, Dr Arifa said that victims and their families hesitate giving a complaint due to social pressures and this is why culprits in many cases go scot free.
Their families do not want the incident to leak as they fear it would affect the child’s future. In this case, the Imam is an influential man and therefore the religious fear and respect too might come into play, she said.
“It is imperative to find a way to circumvent these impediments and book the Imam, as that would make the child feel safer and more likely to give her statement,” Arifa added.