Kochi (VSK). SC/ST Court in Mannarkkat, Palakkad district, Kerala has found 14 accused guilty. Madhu, an ST youth was living in a forest near Attappadi, a tribal area; his mental condition was reportedly unsound. The accused were reported to have gone to the forest, on February 22, 2018, to catch hold of him alleging that he stole some rice from a shop in Mukkali near Mannarkkat. Then he was allegedly beaten by the accused; he sustained 42 injuries; his head was injured when he fell down during the attack. And, his vertebra and ribs also were broken. Court is expected to pronounce the sentence tomorrow.
Hussain, Marikkar (reported to be the leader of the gang), Shamsudeen, Radhakrishnan, Abubacker, Siddiq, Ubaid, Najib, Jaijumon, Sajeev, Sateesh, Hareesh, Biju and Muneer are found to be guilty of unintentional murder under IPC 304. Second accused Aneesh and 11th accused Abdul Kareem are acquitted. Aneesh was alleged to have video-graphed the incident and uploaded it in the social media.
The case had to face lot of challenges. Twenty-six witnesses turned hostile. Mallika and Sarasu, Madhu’s mother and sister respectively, are provided with security since they are alleged to be under threat from the people of the accused. Court findings are on the basis of 3000page charge sheet.
Mallika and Sarasu told media, just after the court found the accused guilty, that they are unhappy about the verdict; their reaction is in the light of acquittal of the two accused and light charges against Muneer. He is charged of using force. They said, they would go to Supreme Court, if it is necessary, for ensuring justice to Madhu. They said, they are still under threat from the people of the accused.
It is alleged that Madhu’s mom and sister were offered Rs 50 lakhs for abandoning the case. It is alleged that the accused gets foreign financial aid.
Public Prosecutor Rajesh M. Menon said that prosecution would examine why murder charge was not proved. SC/ST Act 31-D is taken into consideration during the whole proceedings.
Activist Dhanya Raman told the media that the people of the accused misbehave towards the people who visit Mallika and Sarasu. She said, wife of an accused challenged Sarasu in harsh language during a TV debate. She said that about 22 murders have taken place in Attappadi during the last two decades. Even Madhu’s father was killed years before. But this is the first case of conviction. Witnesses were threatened. Witness Protection Rule had been implemented hence some witnesses, who had turned hostile before, returned in favour.
This is a land mark verdict as Madhu’s mom and sister have been fighting against the odds during the last five years. They had to face both money power and muscle power.
BJP state president K. Surendran said that state government failed to establish before the court that it was a murder.