A businessman was arrested Saturday for allegedly molesting a minor girl inside a movie hall in the district, the police said.
He was booked under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and the POCSO Act, they said.
The incident took place at a theatre in Edapal on April 18, the police said. Moideen Kutty was arrested after visuals of the incident, captured on a CCTV in the theatre, were aired by a television channel Saturday.
He was earlier taken into custody from Shornur and brought to a police station in Changaramkulam for questioning.
The CCTV footage was handed over to police by the childline authorities on April 28.
It is said the man, from Thrithala in Palakkad district, had reached the theatre in a luxury car.
The minor girl was accompanied by her mother.
On Sunday, the police took into custody the victim’s mother and after detailed questioning, a case under POCSO was registered. The woman used to stay on rent in a building that belonged to Moideen kutty.
The girl’s statement was recorded by a magistrate and she was sent to a state-run rescue home.
Earlier, minister for health and social justice K. Shylaja said if the police had failed to act despite receiving a complaint, it was a ‘grave lapse’ and action would be taken.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, demanded action against the ‘erring’ police personnel and said it was unfortunate that they had ‘failed’ to act, despite receiving the complaint on April 28.
The state Human Rights Commission also demanded action against the police personnel concerned. Commission chairman P. Mohana Das demanded that the Malappuram district police chief must probe the incident and file a report within three weeks.
Sub-inspector K.G. Baby has been suspended for dereliction of duty.
According to sources, Baby had approached his superior officer soon after receiving the complaint from Childline but there was no action from the higher ups.
Kerala Assembly speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan, who hails from Malappuram, said the case has shamed everyone.
“The manner in which the police acted is a serious matter too, as they should have taken immediate action. I have asked for appropriate action against those who have erred,” Sreeramakrishnan told media.
State Women’s Commission chairperson M.C. Josephine said that the police failed to rise to the occasion.
“It’s shocking that all this happened with the knowledge of the mother and an appropriate case should be registered against the mother too,” said Josephine.