It has not even been 24 hours since India instituted death penalty for the rape of children below 12 years. But a shocking incident of child sexual abuse has emerged once again, this time from Tamil Nadu.
And the accused, K.P Prem Ananth is a lawyer and carried a membership card of the Madras High Court Advocates Association. He also contested as the BJP's candidate in the 2006 elections from Dr.Radhakrishnan Nagar in Chennai.
The victim, a nine-year- old girl, was travelling with her family from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai by a train that departed on Saturday. She was on a middle berth, her mother and brother on the lower berth and her father on the upper berth. The accused got into the train close to 1 a.m. According to the complaint given by the mother, "This man got in with an open ticket, without reservation. A berth opposite mine was not occupied. I guess the TTE took money and let him in though he denied it. He kissed her cheeks and pressed her chest, closed her mouth and molested her further. She pushed him. He got up to touch her the second time and she screamed, 'Mama, this man is touching my chest'."
The family immediately sprung into action. The crime was committed between Coimbatore and Erode, so they complained to the TTE and waited for the next station to hand over the culprit to the police.
Other passengers who heard the child scream also gave their statements to the police.
From videos that passengers on the train took (which TNM has seen), the man looks inebriated and at one point of time was seen lying on the floor as the police questioned him.
When TNM contacted the Erode police, however, they attempted to play down the incident.
"The accused has just touched the girl," said one police officer.
"They caught him and gave him to the TTE," the official added.
Records on the Election Commission website confirm that Prem Ananth had contested in a BJP seat in 2006. The 57-year-old lawyer's address has been listed as Besant Nagar in his Aadhar card.
A source in the Bar Council told TNM that he was not an actively practising lawyer and was running a textile showroom.
According to the family, they woke up hearing the child's screams and a crowd gathered. "He was pulled towards the toilet space. The police also came by then. But he threatened us and started saying he is an advocate and politically connected," the mother of the child told TNM.
The Erode Railway police have arrested the man and an FIR has been filed in the case. The accused has been booked for aggravated sexual assault under sections 9(m) and 10 of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) act.