A large crowd of over 200 people had gathered at the Police Club in Chackarackal village in Kerala’s Kannur district. In the crowd were history sheeters and convicted criminals as well as those who had complained to the police against them.
As explosive as such a gathering may sound, there was surprisingly little anger on display. More astonishingly, the room overflowed with genuine warmth and fellowship.
It was this feeling that the personnel of the Chackarackal police station were betting on when they organised Namukkorumichirikkam (Let us sit together) as an attempt to reduce crime rates in the area. The event brought together people accused of a variety of crimes and those who had filed complaints against them, to give them an opportunity to interact with each other outside the police station and the courtroom.
“I believe that in every human being there is an element of goodness inside him. If a feeling of guilt is created in him, he will not repeat the crime he has committed. With that motto, we have planned a set of programmes, and this is just the beginning,” Chackarackal Sub Inspector Biju P told TNM.
Many of the participants at the event certainly seemed to agree with SI Biju’s views. 35-year-old Shyju, one of the complainants who participated in the discussion, said that the experience was a rewarding one for all the people involved.
Narrating his own experience, Shyju talked of meeting a few youths who had assaulted him while drunk. “We spoke a lot. They apologised to me and admitted that what they did was wrong. Now I am not angry at them. I have completely forgiven them for what they did,” he said.
Praising the event highly, Shyju added that he felt every police station should organise such events. “The experience that both parties get is amazing. I spoke to many people who were accused of many crimes, and were under trial or had been convicted. All had many stories to tell, which actually help us forgive them. I am sure that the program will be a turning point for many people to return to goodness," he told TNM.
SI Biju said that incidents from his own career made him feel heartened by the results of Namukkorumichirikkam. He looked back, in particular, at the case of Firoz, a man arrested for stealing money from some migrant labourers to pay the bills for his wife’s delivery.
“His wife did not know it was stolen money, so she kept it with her. When we recovered the money and arrested him, he held his child and cried. I can still hear the cry inside me. I even thought of dropping the case,” he narrated.
“There are many such incidents where people turn to crime due to their circumstances. They can be brought back to life through the feeling of guilt,” the officer said.
The officer said that the event involved not only those accused of petty crimes, but also of people facing more serious charges, including of political violence. “To our surprise, everyone behaved in a friendly way, and we could feel a change in the attitude of the accused,” he said.
The officer added that there was hardly any hatred on display between complainants and the accused. “We cannot do anything with the case, it will go on legally. But through these programs we believe that they won’t repeat their crimes. At least in that way we can reduce the crime rate.”
Writer Kalpatta Narayanan who was guest at the function, said in his speech, that such an event represented a real effort to secure justice. “A chance to correct oneself is the biggest justice received. Every crime can be justified by considering the circumstances. In that sense this is a great initiative,” he said.
Speaking on the success of the event, SI Biju added, “This was a venue for everyone to forgive and forget, and to an extent we have succeeded at that.”
Edited by Rakesh Mehar