The mother of the Suryanelli gang-rape victim on Friday alleged that her family members had been restrained from attending the church by the Vicar of their parish in view of recent developments in the 1996 case.
The church, however, refuted the charge maintaining that no ban of any kind had been imposed on anyone from coming to the church and saying prayers or attending the mass.
According to the girl's mother, three weeks ago, after the Sunday mass, the vicar of the Catholic church at Kurichi near Kottayam told the girl's father that they should try to avoid coming to the church.
Though the vicar did not cite any specific reason for this, apparently it could be due to the recent developments in the case, she said. "The vicar did not say that there is a ban on us. He, however, suggested that we should try to avoid coming to the church. He did not say this in a harsh tone but in a friendly manner," the girl's mother told a Malayalam television channel.
"The vicar's words deeply pained us, especially since this has happened when the fasting season of Lent is on," she said.
She, however, said for the last few years they had been attending the same church and never faced any discrimination or hostile attitude from the church authorities. Vicar of the church, Fr Francis, however, dubbed the allegation as ‘totally baseless’.
"It is surprising. No such thing has happened," he said. On Monday last, the Kerala high court adjourned to March 15 the Suriyanelli case. The apex court had in January set aside the high court's order, acquitting all 35 accused and directed it to hear the matter afresh.
The girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district was abducted in January 1996 and sexually exploited by different persons. On March 2, a local court in Kerala had rejected a plea by the victim in the Suryanelli gang rape case for a fresh probe into the alleged involvement of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien in the case, holding there was no new ground for a fresh investigation.