Kamal Saga: Of comrades and low-intensity rapes

noted film director Ali Akbar says it is possible that the CPI(M), which has got the instrument to measure the intensity of sexual intercourse, may let film director kamal of the hook

When a young woman CPI(M) activist filed a sexual harassment complaint against party MLA Com. P K Sasi in the CPI(M) state committee, the leadership first ignored it ‘with the contempt it deserved’. Unfazed, she took up the complaint to the Politburo of the party. But when the state leadership realised that the issue might go out of hand and land the party in hot water, the party constituted a probe panel comprising veteran leader P K Sreemathy Teacher and state minister A K Balan as its members. The team held several rounds of meetings with the survivor. Finally, the panel found that the ‘intensity of the intercourse’ in the alleged rape was ‘low’, therefore, no need for any ‘harsh punishments’. The panel recommended the state leadership to remove him from all party posts for measly six months. However, the party allowed Sasi to lead a state-wide march for ‘women’s rights’!

 In the sordid Sasi saga, the most startling response came from the Chairperson of the state Women’s Commission, Josephine. When asked by journalists why did the Commission not take up the issue suo moto as it was a criminal offence, Josephine said: “The party (CPI(M) has its own mechanism to address such issues. Personally, if I am subjected to sexual harassment, I would go to the party first.” Josephine is not completely off the mark. For Josephine, it is an expression of confidence in the party. Loyalty pays. For instance, when a very senior Marxist leader was caught on camera groping the wife of a party leader in broad daylight at a function attended by none other than then Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, the husband of the victim was given a promotion in the party rank in a bid to buy his silence.

Celibacy is not a Communist virtue. The leading lights of the Communist movement the world over had their share of notoriety. Gandhiji genuinely feared that the Communists would herald sexual anarchy in Indian society. Malayalam writer Paul Zachariah was beaten to pulp by Marxists for speaking about the promiscuous ways of some Communist legends of Kerala. Late V K Induchoodan, the first editor of CPI(M) mouthpiece Deshabhimani told me one of the topmost Communist leaders in Kerala had two illegitimate children in two women. Unfortunately for him, the two illegitimate ones resembled exactly like him while the legitimate son was off the mark.

Maybe the abundance of experience in dealing with such cases has helped the Communists in Kerala acquire a fair amount of expertise in carrying out sexual harassment investigations. Late V B Cherian once told Manorama TV how the party had settled a sleazy affair.  He said: “A local unit of the party had one enthusiastic woman comrade. The local secretary of the party had an eye on her. After some days, she became pregnant. The issue had caused much turmoil in the locality. So the party leaders took up the matter with the woman who admitted that she was pregnant and the local secretary had impregnated her.  A committee was set up to probe the case. The committee could not take the local secretary, who wielded a lot of clout, to task. So it came out with a report saying that the woman comrade was not pregnant and asked party members to abstain from levelling unfounded allegations. But after six-seven months, the woman delivered a child. The committee again met and expelled the woman, alleging that she had ‘violated party discipline’.”

Now, another Communist fellow-traveller is in news over sexual harassment. Malayalam film director and Director of Chalachithra Academy Kamaluddin alias Kamal is accused of raping a film actor on the promise of a main role in his next project. Except a couple of media outlets, the Left-leaning media outlets, intellectuals and police have turned a blind eye to the case. The complaint by the rape survivor says other two girls were also raped by Kamal. In a lighter vein, noted film director Ali Akbar says it is possible that the CPI(M), which has got the instrument to measure the intensity of sexual intercourse, may let Kamal off the hook.