By opposing the CBI probe, the government is sending the message that they support the murderers of Kripesh and Sharath Lal, say the families of the two men who were hacked to death last year.

Youth congress workers Kripesh and Sharath Lal murdered in 2019
news Controversy Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 18:21

“We only ought to be fighting those people who brutally murdered our son, but now, we are fighting the state government,” says Sathya Narayanan, father of 24-year-old Sharath Lal who was hacked to death along with 22-year-old Kripesh, in Kerala’s Kasaragod district in February 2019. The families of the two Youth Congress workers, who managed to secure an order from the Kerala High Court for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the murder case, are outraged as the state government is against a probe by the central agency.

Having moved a single Bench and a division Bench in the Kerala High Court, the state government has now approached the Supreme Court, opposing the CBI probe. Out of 14 people arrested in relation to the case, reportedly six, including the key accused, are part of the CPI(M), which leads the LDF government.

“Who is the government supporting? They are not with the victim. The government has clearly given a message that they are with the murderers,” Kripesh’s father, Krishnan, tells TNM.

We only want those who killed our sons to be punished as per the law, whoever it is, adds Krishnan.

“If the government has no involvement and has nothing to hide, why are they opposing an investigation by the CBI?” asks Krishnan. He cites the alleged custodial death of Pathanamthitta farmer Mathai wherein the state government readily accepted the family’s plea for a CBI probe.

The families stated that they had not, in the first place, asked the government for a probe by the Crime Branch.

“We approached the High Court after realising that the Crime Branch was not conducting a fair probe. After the murder, the police here had been doing a good job. We were satisfied with how it was progressing. But then, even without our request or demand, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch. Some local CPI(M) leaders, who we had accused to have been part of the conspiracy, became just witnesses in the case,” says Sathya Narayanan.

It was in October 2019 that a single-judge Bench of the High Court ordered a CBI probe, slamming the Crime Branch and calling it a “callous probe”. The court quashed the charge sheet submitted by the Crime Branch. Further, a division Bench of the court, which considered the state government’s appeal, upheld the CBI probe, but asked the trial court to consider the charge sheet of the Crime Branch as well, along with the CBI’s future reports.

Meanwhile, the state government has come under fire from the Opposition with the Congress alleging that top lawyers, being paid from the state's exchequer, have been hired for appeal against a CBI probe.

An RTI filed by a Kannur native had reportedly revealed last month that the government spent Rs 88 lakhs as legal expenses in appealing against the CBI probe in the case. In March, when Congress MLAs raised the issue in the Kerala Assembly, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had responded harshly saying there was nothing new in going for appeal.

“The state has not yet handed over the case diary or other documents to the CBI, despite the order of HC… Kerala government has from the beginning stood with the culprits in the case… Crores will be lost to the state’s exchequer by this legal battle in the Supreme Court. The government should back off from this move denying justice to the family of Kripesh and Sarath Lal,” Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

The families of both the men on Tuesday filed a contempt of court petition against the Kerala police for not handing over the case diary to the CBI, despite court orders.

Meanwhile, Law Minister AK Balan defended the government 's action, stating that the High Court had upheld the charge sheet filed by the Crime Branch. "The structure of the Crime Branch case is such that the accused will get punishment. So our prayer in court (Supreme Court) is that it should take a stand to allow the Crime Branch in continuing the probe," said AK Balan.

Read: 'It was political’: Kin of slain Youth Congress workers allege vendetta behind murders

Watch visuals of people in Periya reacting to the murder:

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