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No proof against Oommen Chandy in sexual abuse case, CBI report raises questions about charges

In its report exonerating the late Oommen Chandy in the sexual exploitation case related to the 2013 solar scandal, the CBI has hinted at a conspiracy behind the allegation, questioning the authenticity of a letter written by the woman at the centre of the charges, and the role of a middleman who says he acted under “pressure from CPI(M) leaders”.

A week back, a magistrate court here accepted the closure report filed by the CBI, which had taken over the probe in 2021.

On Monday, Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan sought a probe into the “conspiracy”, alleging that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was behind it. Rejecting the allegation, Vijayan said: “Nobody hunted Chandy. You (the Opposition) know who hunted him.”

Explained | Oommen Chandy gets clean chit: What was the sexual exploitation case?

The CBI report says the letter making sexual abuse allegations against Congress leaders, including Chandy, was presented to the agency as written by the woman, by middleman T G Nandakumar. He told the agency that “he was involved in this case only because of pressure from CPI(M) leaders”.

The agency report also says that three days after Pinarayi Vijayan became the CM in 2016, the woman had met him to submit a petition seeking a probe into the charges. “The permission for the meeting was arranged by Nandakumar.”

The solar scandal started out in 2013 as a probe into charges that an alleged con woman and her associate had duped several persons promising solar solutions, by claiming links to the Chief Minister’s Office. A Congress government led by Oommen Chandy was in power at the time.

Following the allegations, three personal aides of Chandy were removed and arrested for their links with the woman.

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Then in 2016, just before the Assembly elections in the state, the woman complainant claimed that she had also been sexually abused by Chandy, on September 19, 2012, at the CM’s official residence. She claimed that she had made the same allegations in a letter she wrote from jail, after her arrest in the cheating cases of 2013.

In the elections, the Congress-led UDF government was voted out, and Vijayan became CM at the head of an LDF government.

In 2018, the woman approached the state police with the complaint against Chandy. The police found no evidence regarding the woman’s allegations against the former CM. Even the legal opinion sought by the Vijayan government was in favour of Chandy.

The woman though again approached Vijayan and, in early 2021, with months to go for that year’s Assembly elections, the LDF government handed over her fresh complaint to the CBI.

Also Read | Oommen Chandy, my MLA, a leader who was always there

The CBI report submitted now says it found no direct or circumstantial evidence to establish the allegation of “unnatural sex” made by the woman against Chandy, nor any documentary evidence to prove that he had “cheated” her. Apart from accusing Chandy of sexual abuse, the woman had alleged that the then CM and an aide had extorted Rs 1.90 crore from her to clear her firm for a contract.

The agency says it recorded the statements of several witnesses, many of them closely associated with the complainant, but none could give any evidence corroborating the allegation.

The CBI report goes on to talk about the letter containing sexual abuse allegations against Congress leaders. The agency report says the letter was shared by Nandakumar, who claimed to have got it from Saranya Manoj, a relative of Ganesh Kumar.

Kumar had relations with the woman before the solar scandal broke out, and was said to have got the letter from her when she was jailed after her arrest in 2013.

The CBI accuses Nandakumar of giving Rs 1 lakh to the woman.

In the letter, the CBI report says: “She (the woman) wrote a 21-page letter from jail and later changed the number of pages. Nandakumar produced before the CBI a 19-page letter claiming it was written by the woman. Another letter handed over to Asianet News (by him) had 25 pages. Later, the woman claimed the letter had 30 pages. But she produced only a four-page letter before the court (initially), without mentioning any sexual allegations. This proves that the letters written by the woman are contradictory (to each other).’’

When the woman was produced in court after her 2013 arrest in the solar cheating case, and the proceedings were conducted in-camera, she had talked about being sexually and financially abused by politicians, but did not mention Chandy. Told by the magistrate to put everything down on paper, she had given a four-page letter mentioning only matters related to Biju Radhakrishnan, her partner.

The CBI report says there was no satisfactory explanation from the woman regarding a three-year delay in coming up with the sexual abuse charges. It adds that P C George, who was removed as chief whip during the Chandy regime and who the woman claimed had witnessed the alleged abuse, had rejected her claim.

The CBI also says George gave them a letter from the woman, which she wrote to him after the CBI took over the probe in 2021, detailing what she said were the clothes she and Chandy were wearing at the time of the alleged sexual abuse in 2012.

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George said she asked him to repeat the contents of the letter before the agency.

The CBI says other associates of the woman also denied her story. One of them, Rajasekharan Nair, accused her of lying for financial gains, and said he was paid to support her case before the agency. It also claims that she approached Congress leader Benny Behnan to extort money from leaders, but was turned away.

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The middleman whom the CBI report names as one of the key faces in the whole case, Nandakumar, has been at the heart of other high-profile cases in Kerala as well. He once claimed to have close links with high court judges, and to have worked as a middleman between the CPI(M) and Reliance for the launch of its retail chain in Kerala.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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