Parents of the two Dalit girls in Palakkad's Walayar, who were sexually assaulted and murdered in 2017, are marching towards Kerala Minister AK Balan's house in the district, agitated over the ministerâ€™s comments that questioned why the parents were still protesting.
The parents, along with the activists part of the Justice for Walayar Kids Forum and others who pledged solidarity, started the march on Tuesday from the deceased children's home at Attapallam in Walayar. The march, covering about 18 km to AK Balan's house at Parakkunam, will conclude on Thursday.
The parents of the children, along with the Justice for Walayar Kids Forum, had been holding recurrent protests over the past many months after the accused in the crime were acquitted by the trial court, following a shoddy probe. The accused men were rearrested following a High Court order this March, and were out on bail. One of the accused recently died by suicide.
On October 25, however, AK Balan who is the minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and is also in charge of the Law Department, had stated that he does not understand why the family was continuing the protest as the state government had moved the court with the same demand as the family's.
"The government's and the familyâ€™s argument is the same. I hope the family will get a verdict according to their prayer [in court] and as per promises made by the government. The issue is in court. In that case, I don't understand why they are protesting. If anyone has made them misunderstand, at least now they should revoke [the protest]," AK Balan told the media.
Agitated by the statement, the family started a protest march on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the march ended after reaching Palakkad Indira Gandhi Stadium premises. Speaking to TNM, the mother of the children says the family is very much aggrieved by the ministerâ€™s words.
â€śEven when he (AK Balan) came to visit the victims of the hooch tragedy near Walayar recently, he did not come to visit us, where we were holding protests. We were protesting just four kilometers away, yet he didn't know the way here. And he reacted saying he doesnâ€™t know why we protest. We will let him know. We will meet him tomorrow (Thursday) and tell him,â€ť she said.
The parents are demanding that a reinvestigation be held in the case under the observation of the Kerala High Court, Justice for Walayar Kids Forum wrote in a statement. â€śWe want to ask if the state government stands strong in this stand and the Law Minister should also make it clear if the government is ready to take a case against officials who probed the case, including [investigating officer MJ] Sojan,â€ť the statement added.
In an open letter, the children's mother also questioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on what action had been taken on the recommendations of PK Haneefa-led judicial commissionâ€™s report.
The parents had also come out against the promotion given to investigation officer MJ Sojan (the then Deputy Superintendent of Police), who had made a derogatory statement against the children. Recently, the mother of the girls had also stated that police officials had wrongly taken her statement, regarding the affidavit filed by state government in HC about the retrial of the case, and manipulated it.