How Abhaya case witness Adakka Raju was subjected to inhuman torture by cops

Adakka Raju stood strong to depose what he saw that fateful day after all these years, despite being subjected to most “inhumane torture” by the investigation agencies, the court said.
Adakka Raju
Adakka Raju
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Adakka Raju was ordinary of the ordinary, a man who climbed the walls of St Pius X Convent in Kottayam 28 years ago for some petty theft. But on that ill-fated day when Sister Abhaya, a 21-year-old nun in the convent got killed, he was turning out to be an extraordinary man, who was to beat a sea of odds to stand strong as the key witness in the case, to have directly witnessed the prime accused on the crime scene. And it is rightly for this Malayalis took Adakka Raju to their hearts, when he jubilantly reacted to the media, saying his “daughter finally got justice”, after a Thiruvanathapuram court pronounced the accused priest and nun guilty of the crime on Tuesday.

But there is more to the man than what meets the eye, cues the court in its almost 300 page judgement. Raju stood strong to depose what he saw that fateful day after all these years, despite being subjected to the most “inhumane torture” by the investigation agencies, who coerced him to confess to a crime that he never committed, the court said.

It was Raju who saw Father Thomas M Kottoor (the convict) along with Fr Jose Poothrikkayil (who was earlier discharged from the case) on the terrace of the convent in the wee hours of March 27, 1992, the day when Abhaya got killed, after she discovered Sister Sephy, another nun in the convent and the two other priests in a compromising position. Raju had said he saw two people standing on top of the terrace of the convent, who were looking around with a lighted torch in the wee hours of the morning. “I know Kottoor achan (priest),” Raju had told the court.

But being a witness in the case was not an easy journey for Raju, who was initially coerced to accept the crime, the court states in its judgement. It reveals how strategically, the Crime Branch moved in the case to help the real accused evade from the case.

For 58 days, Raju was kept in the Crime Branch custody at Kottayam, where he was “subjected to inhuman torture to extract a confession to the effect that he had committed the murder of Sr Abhaya,”  judge K Sanilkumar, said in the judgement. He was then lured by offering large financial rewards, a job for his wife, a promise to meet the educational expenses of his children and even a promise to build a house. But Raju, who hailed from a very humble background who was in grave need of all these, courageously ignored it blatantly.

“He may have been a thief, but he was and is an honest man, a simple person without the need to dissemble, a human being who became a professional thief by the force of circumstances, but a speaker of truth nonetheless,” the court said praising Raju’s courage.

In its judgement, the court has also revealed how the Crime Branch had categorically moved against Raju, accusing him in 40 other false criminal cases, as a move to pressurise him to change his statements, after he ignored the ‘offers’.

The investigation officers even tortured many others related with Raju, to extract a false statement from them to falsely implicate him in the murder. Prosecution witness Shameer (PW8), to whom Raju used to sell the petty items he stole, was one of them. Shameer and his brother were brutally thrashed by the officers, the court says.

“Shameer was tortured by the police for two days and his brother was tortured for six days in custody. The then Deputy Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) IC Thampan, repeatedly hit his brother stating that he should say that Adakka Raju committed the murder of Sister Abhaya,” it says.

Showing the Crime Branch’s planned move, the court states that Shameer’s brother who fell unconscious after being attacked, was taken to General Hospital in Kottayam for treatment under the name of another person. These activities were carried out by the police at the instance of Superintendent of Police, KT Michael, the court observes.

Following this, the investigation officers falsely planted evidence to implicate Raju in 40 other criminal cases. According to the judgement, KT Michael SP forced Shameer’s father to buy 20 water meters and 20 Kg of copper, which was planted as evidence against Raju. Raju was then convicted in two cases, the court says, but was acquitted in others as evidence was not recognized by witnesses.

It is worthy to repetitively note how Raju continued to stand strong for the truth, over all these years, even when many other crucial witnesses changed their statements in support of the accused. The court even said Raju’s unwavering statement was enough to “established beyond all doubt that there was the presence of A1 (Fr Kottoor) in convent” on the night of the murder.

Since the past two days, Adakka Raju, the ‘good thief’ has been viral in social media and has now become a household name in Kerala, all for good reasons.

Watch video: Raju reacting to media


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