People in Kerala woke up on Thursday morning to pictures of Prabhavathi Amma in the front pages of all major newspapers. The 67-year-old was in tears after a CBI special court sentenced two policemen to death, for the custodial murder of her son in 2005.
News media as well as social media called it justice for the mother after 13 long years. But one young man sitting outside the Kerala secretariat disagrees.
Sreejith, who has been sitting in protest for 957 days now, asks, â€śHow can you call it justice when it took 13 years to come out with a verdict?â€ť
Sreejith's brother Sreejeev, too, was a victim of custodial violence â€“ in 2014. â€śFor a mother, the loss of her son cannot be replaced by anything. I donâ€™t think she will feel any happiness even if the guilty are punished," says Sreejith.
In January this year, following a social media storm, Sreejith was able to gain massive support from different corners of the state. While common people marched for him on the streets of Kerala, actors like Nivin Pauly, Parvathy and Tovino Thomas also spoke up for him.
Speaking about all the support that seems to have died down now, Sreejith says, â€śIt was something I didnâ€™t call for. It picked up by itself.â€ť
â€śEven as thousands gathered to support me, there were certain groups of people who were trying to hijack the cause and to take it away from me,â€ť he adds.
Sreejith fears that these were people who were closely associated with the police and the people in power.
â€śJust last month, I had filed a complaint with the CM of Kerala saying that if people who are responsible for the murder of my brother are not brought under the law before my protest reaches 1000 days, then I will stage a fast unto death,â€ť says Sreejith.
Sreejith also says that for the first time since he had started protesting, he would like the people of the state to stand by him.
â€śEarlier this year, people of the state came together for me without me requesting them to do so. But right now, I desperately need the support of the people,â€ť he says.
Though the CBI started investigating the case this year after tremendous public pressure forced the Kerala government to approach the agency, Sreejith resumed his strike after his statement was recorded by CBI.
In his 957 days of protest, Sreejith has gone on a hunger strike many times and he tells TNM that heâ€™s been on a hunger strike for the past 4 days.
Sreejithâ€™s brother Sreejeev was taken into custody by the Parassala police on allegations of theft in May 2014. Days after this, Sreejeev died in a hospital. While police officials maintain that Sreejeev consumed poison, his family accused the officers of murder.
In 2016, the Police Complaint Authority investigation found that his death was indeed caused by custodial torture and that the police version of the event was false.