Former BJP candidate molests sleeping minor in Chennai train, arrested
A lawyer who fought the 2006 Tamil Nadu (TN) elections on a BJP ticket has been arrested for allegedly molesting a sleeping nine-year-old girl on a train, somewhere between Salem and Erode, Sunday night. When confronted, he reportedly threatened the victim's family, boasting of his political links. Incidentally, the case happened hours after the government approved death penalty for rapists of children under 12.
According to the girl's mother, they were traveling from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai, when accused KP Prem Ananth boarded the train at Coimbatore around 1am. He didn't have a reservation, but took the berth opposite them At night, while the family slept (the girl was on the middle berth), he "kissed her cheeks, pressed her chest, closed her mouth and molested her."
When the man tried to touch her a second time, the girl screamed. People woke up, nabbed Ananth and informed police. TNM reports that in videos from the scene, he looked inebriated and even lied down on the floor at one point while the police questioned him. Passengers also claimed that when confronted, he threatened them, saying he was a well-connected lawyer.
The 56-year-old had contested from Chennai's high-profile RK Nagar in 2006 from BJP, which sought to distance itself from him. "I am told that he was not active (member). Being a BJP member isn't a label, it's meant for service. If this crime has happened, he should be getting maximum punishment," said TN BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan. Ananth has now been booked under POCSO.
India has been waking up to new cases of sexual harassment every single day. The government has taken a step by imposing stricter punishment. But BJP, which coincidentally has been linked to several cases including Kathua and Unnao, needs to learn from its past mistakes: a strong condemnation and quick action against Ananth, if he's indeed guilty, can help it get back lost following.