March 2018
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A heinous crime
K. Gopalakrishnan

(Feb 27, 2018): Beating to death of a famished adivasi youth, Madhu, for stealing rice in Attapadi last week, speaks volumes about the psyche of the society in the state, of the plight of the adivasis, the functioning of the departments concerned with the welfare of the hapless section of the society and the law and order machinery in the state.

Kerala society of late has seen many horrific acts of violence. The execrable violence a week before when allegedly CPIM activists murdered a young man, Suhaib, a former Congress activist working in the Gulf on leave in the state, who was brutally killed by hacking.

Believe it or not the legs of the young man were chopped 17 times almost like a butcher cutting the meat chunk into pieces! The only crime he did was to revive his earlier political contacts and work with them for two weeks or so and was scheduled to resume his duties in Gulf within a few days. Again in a violent act a fortnight earlier a pregnant woman was allegedly kicked by a man leading to abortion.

The other shocking political crimes were the killing of a teacher in front of students, chopping the hand of a professor and the killing of T.P. Chandrashekhar, a CPIM rebel who left the party to form another political set up.

The perpetrator of the crime was allegedly a CPIM activist. The cases of rapes of minor girls aged few months to old women in Seventies are common, reflecting the emerging psyche in the society. Some of them are attributed to migrant labour.

A year back a celebrity actor while returning after her shoot from Trissur to Kochi was attacked allegedly by a group of criminals. Her car was stopped and the criminals moved in and the girl was sexually harassed which was recorded.

The whole act was undertaken on ‘supari’ for a high fee assigned by a super star according to the prosecution. The case which shocked the whole state is at present subjudice. Such harassments and blackmailing it appears, had happened earlier too on ‘supari’ basis.

Violence and killings due to political rivalry is becoming common, with leaders of political parties losing control of their cadre who settle scores or take revenge on their own. Most of the political parties are in this gory game, the difference only in degrees.

The maximum clashes are between the activists of the CPIM and the BJP. Sometimes, believe it or not, even inner party rivalries are settled through such physical elimination process! Leaving a party and joining another or launching a new party also leads to such loathsome murders.

Kerala society has been comparatively peaceful. Violence on such a scale began in the last decade or two. Political violence and murders began in the Seventies. But violence of such a varied nature and indicating the emergence of such a cruel psyche in a section of the society is of recent origin, say a little over a decade or so.

The number of such incidents is taking Kerala to be almost No.1 in crime in the country, mainly because in the state, reporting is far more honest and the attempt to avoid registering cases is comparatively less in number compared to other states.

However there is no denial that there is a notable increase in ghastly violence leading to loss of lives. The increasing number of crimes against women and children has also undoubtedly increased to alarming proportions. Perhaps a study is required to know the reasons for this tremendous increase of crime in the state.

The killing of the adivasi youth, Madhu, by beating him to death has created waves throughout the country. The youth was living in a cave in the forest, mentally slightly unbalanced, who came out only when he was hungry.

His crime was lifting food articles from a shop. According to his mother, Mallika and sister, Chandrika, 10-15 persons went to the forest and thrashed him. Later he was made to walk 4 km with a heavy baggage on his back. When he requested for water he was mocked at. Some forest officials knew about the whole matter.

The point is that the plight of the Attapady tribals has been pathetic, a fact known to the district administration and local politicians of all hues. No serious effort was made to uplift them through a planned programme except giving them some relief whenever an embarrassing situation surfaced.

The present situation too has made local political leaders rush to the area and try to take up their cause. The state government has announced a relief of Rs.10 lakhs to the family. Everything will be forgotten over a period of time.

Lynching is a gory crime. At least this heinous act, one hopes would open the eyes of the authorities to look into the problems of the tribals in the area, who have been ignored for long. This community in Attapadi faces many problems - health, education, malnutrition and various types of exploitation. Occasionally their problems do get media attention. What is needed is a plan to rehabilitate them and merge with the mainstream.

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