‘Only DYFI people can molest?’: Chennithala’s sordid response to question on rape charge

Ramesh Chennithala made the remark when asked about the rape charge against a man who is reportedly the member of an association connected to the Congress.
Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala
Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala
Written by:

“Why, is there a written rule that only those in DYFI can molest (a woman)?” — This was the response of senior Congress leader and the Leader of Opposition in Kerala, Ramesh Chennithala, when asked about the rape charges against a health worker, who reportedly is part of the Congress NGO association.

Ramesh Chennithala was speaking at a press conference to announce the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for the bye-elections to Chavara and Kuttanad. It was then that a journalist brought up the topic of the rape charges, and asked a question in the form of an insensitive taunt, to which, the senior Congress leader decided to offer a callous remark and reject all allegations.

It must be noted here that the journalist asked the leader, “It seems the worker was a member of the NGO association of the Congress party. How can women live if the Congressmen in the state start sexually assaulting them?”

On Monday, a junior health inspector named Pradeep was arrested for allegedly raping a female nurse who had been under observation for COVID-19. Pradeep is reportedly an active member of an NGO association of the Congress party.

According to the first information report (FIR), it was an incident of a brutal rape. The incident took place on September 3 when the accused asked the woman, who is a home nurse, to come to his flat to collect her COVID-19 test negative certificate as she wanted to return to her native in Malappuram. Pradeep, who was reportedly a staff of the primary health centre (PHC) in Kollam, allegedly threatened to complain to the police for violating her quarantine period.

The FIR reportedly said that Pradeep tied her and gagged her mouth with a piece of cloth. She is said to have suffered serious injuries and he allegedly let her go only the following day.

Chennithala’s remark that trivialised crimes against women comes amidst the shock and anger evoked by two incidents of sexual assault against two women who were reeling under a dangerous disease.

In an attempt to take a dig at ruling CPI(M) party and its youth wing, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DFYI), Chennithala decided to casually brush off the serious charges against one of Congress party’s own men with a sordid comment: “Is it written anywhere that only DYFI men can molest?” He maintained a snarky smile on his face as he uttered those words.

So, is the Leader of Opposition of the view that any man has the “right” to rape a woman?

The video clip of the Chennithala’s response to the journalist’s question started doing the rounds on social media platforms almost instantly. This has attracted the ire of women and men alike.

Demanding an apology from Chennithala, Health Minister KK Shailaja said that his statement has insulted womanhood.

Journalist Shahina KK asked if Ramesh Chennithala had any respect towards the chair he occupied and demanded an apology. Another journalist Jisha George asked whether Chennithala realises the trauma he has caused to the survivor.

Another user on Twitter, who goes by the handle of 'Irfanulhakeem', said, “These are the words of the Leader of Opposition and former Home Minister. This shows what a horrible person he is.”

Demanding an apology from the Leader of Opposition, several women have started a hashtag on social media: #ChennithalaShouldApologise.

Chennithala has, however, responded saying that his words were being misconstrued and this was a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the two sexual assaults in the state. 

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute