A sinking act of courage?

The drama behind the chopped-off genitals of Swami Ganeshananda Theerthapada has taken a turn and reached utter dismal situation by the change of statements by the victim repeatedly. It has created a new interest in the case and has divulged dimensions hitherto unnoticed. Society is in a dilemma now as to believe or not even the most self-defensive actions by the needy.

It was reported on May 20 that a 23-year-old woman, an LLB student, had cut off the genitals of the 54-year-old Swami, who was allegedly sexually abusing her since she was in high school. It was revealed that this so-called ‘godman’ had tried to rape her on May 19, Friday night, and the girl in turn has chopped off his genitals. She was afraid that he would kill her and hence informed the police about the incident herself.

The woman’s father has been bedridden for years and Swami Hari Kumar (as he is otherwise known), who was then associated with the Panmana Ashram in Kollam, was entrusted by the woman’s mother to do poojas at home to ward off the problems faced by the family. Panmana Ashram has later denied any connection with the godman. It was accused that the mother of the girl had sexual relations with the Swami; but it was during the same period that he started to frequent the family on the pretext of performing poojas and started molesting the then minor girl.

But even when we discuss this, the various statements by the woman and the conversation with the Swami’s lawyer had made the public to sit straight and look into the case from a new angle.It was a shock as well as a revelation that, anything can turn out to be something different at any point of time, than what we were led to believe.

The Swami himself had claimed at one stage that it was not the woman who cut his organ, but he himself did it, as ‘it was not useful to him’. The argument sounded ridiculous to everyone but him. When the woman came up with a letter to the Swami’s lawyer claiming that the godman did not try to rape her but it was the police who forced her to confess against the Swami, the case took a whole new turn. She even accused Mr. Ayyappadas, who is known to the family, in planning a conspiracy to cut off the genitals. Later she again went back to the original statement that the Swami had assaulted her.

The credibility of the case has now dwindled. When the act of cutting the genitals in self-defense surfaced, the public stood with her and even protested against filing a case against her. Prominent personalities including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan supported her by saying it is a ‘courageous act’. But now the public as well as the police wonder why the girl is changing the statements. As a result the police moved court to conduct a lie detector test on the victim.

The act we all hailed as self-defense which bore an uncanny resemblance with the movie ‘22 Female Kottayam’ now stands under the shadow of greater dramas by the change of statements. The irony is that it was the victim herself who changed the path of the investigation and the public image.

Confused by the swirl of statements, the public may now think several times before supporting a victim in need. This whole incident brings out two different sets of action; an act which was courageous in self-defense, and another act which has put society in a state of perplexity; both from the part of the alleged victim herself.

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