He was just 23, cared for all: Attingal victim Shabeer’s brother cries for justice

"Our loss is purely ours. No one can ever compensate us for my Ikka’s (elder brother) death."
He was just 23, cared for all: Attingal victim Shabeer’s brother cries for justice
He was just 23, cared for all: Attingal victim Shabeer’s brother cries for justice

It is with a sense of trepidation that I dial Shameer’s number. How does one frame questions asking about his brother’s horrific murder in broad daylight? Media intrusion at its worst, I guess.

23-year-old MV Shabeer, a native of Vakkom on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram was brutally beaten to death by four assailants on January 31. An eyewitness’ video clipping which was posted online went viral leading to arrests of all the four accused.

When the news of the murder first broke, Shabeer was just a mere name doing the rounds in broken whispers. Slowly a humane face came into being, one which was always at the forefront of any local welfare activity in his native place.

As a gesture of solidarity in Shabeer’s memory, the Vakkom Puthennada Deveeshra Shiva Kshetram (temple) just next door to Shabeer’s home abstained from performing daily pujas on Monday and Tuesday. The inner sanctum too remained closed during that time.

That’s when Keralites came to know that Shabeer, a Muslim, was an executive member of the local temple festival committee for the past two years.

At a time when communal prejudices seem to be returning with a vengeance, here is a man who disregarding any religious divide wholeheartedly participated in all social welfare activities organized by the Puthennada Temple in Vakkom.

Ironically it was his selfless involvement with the festival events that led to his cruel fate. Shabeer had deposed before the police about the involvement of his assailants in a dispute over an elephant running amok during temple festivities last year.

“Our loss is purely ours. No one can ever compensate us for my Ikka’s (elder brother) death. Since my brother was killed, many important officials have visited our home. They have promised all help…in what form, I cannot exactly recollect. It all seems hazy as of now. The Home Minister just left after offering his condolences and government support. But we need only one thing: maximum punishment for the first and second accused -Satheesh and Santhosh- who mercilessly continued to thrash my brother’s lifeless body. Life imprisonment wouldn’t do for them. The noose is what it should be,” Shameer pours out his heartfelt anguish over the phone to The News Minute.

In a shaking tone, Shameer confesses not being able to bring himself to watch the online video of his brother’s last few breaths being ruthlessly snuffed out. He asks me whether I had seen it, to which I could only manage a barely audible wretched “No” in reply.

Shabeer was the eldest of three siblings. His father had abandoned the family when his youngest brother –Shajeer- was just three months old and it was his mother who single-handedly brought up her three sons.

Shameer, the middle brother, goes into a rewind mode. “Ikka was always there for everybody. He worked as a casual labourer to support us and to give my ailing mother a break from life’s hardships, while pursuing his second year degree studies in a parallel college, attending classes thrice a week. Night or day, he was always available to one and all, be it blood donation, helping out with the annadhanam (distribution of rice), getting people to hospitals…and now look at what happened?”

At a floundering loss on how to console his grief-stricken mother and youngest brother, Shameer tells me it’s been days since both of them had eaten anything. “They just sit in a daze and burst out in gut-wrenching sobs whenever anyone drops in. Everyone tells me now I’m now the head of the family…that Ikka has left me in charge. Did he? Wasn’t he forced to do that against his will to live? He was just 23.”

How does one respond to that?  

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