Imam booked for sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl in Kerala

FEBRUARY 13, 2019

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After a week’s delay, the police on Tuesday finally registered a case against the former chief imam of the Tholicode Jama Ath, Shafeek Al Qasimi, on charges of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. The case has been registered by Vithura police invoking relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

He is accused of picking up the girl, who is known to him, from school and sexually abusing her at a deserted spot near the forest at Tholicode.
It was a week ago that Qasimi was confronted by a group of Kudumbashree workers when he arrived at the secluded spot with the girl in his car. He claimed that the girl was his wife. It was later revealed that he picked her up from school.

The police could not immediately register a case as the girl refused to give a statement against the imam. Her family too supported the imam. Following this, the police sought the help of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
The CWC then held a hearing and ordered to shift the girl to a shelter home under the social justice department as there was a possibility of her being under the influence of her family in not coming out against the imam. Though she was shifted to the shelter home on Saturday and despite several counselling sessions, the girl is not ready yet to give her statement, said an official.

“We have now registered the case on the basis of a complaint by Jama Ath Committee president Badusha. The committee had conducted an inquiry and found that there was merit in the allegations against the accused,” said Crime Branch DSP (Rural) D Asokan.

The DSP said that besides the Jama Ath president’s statement, the police had also recorded the statements of the six women who found the imam under suspicious circumstances. A WhatsApp audio clip released by Qasimi after fleeing from Tholicode has also been taken as evidence by police. In the audio clip Qasimi says that he reached the forest after losing the way.

“In our preliminary inquiry we have learned that the path between the girl’s school and her house was nowhere near the forest. Being a resident of the place for many years, it is hard to believe that Qasimi lost his way while driving,” the DSP said.
Meanwhile, Qasimi was expelled from the Jama Ath. The All India Imam’s Council too has suspended him. Qasimi is still at large.

Childline authorities said that they took the girl, a Class X student, to her school to attend her model exam, ahead of the board exams, on Monday.
On Saturday, the Centre for Film Gender and Culture Studies, a gender justice and child rights organisation, had filed petitions before the chief minister and the state police chief seeking urgent action against the accused.


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