Ramanattukara native Faiz was beaten up by three headload workers at Palayam in Kozhikode while he was shifting some goods from a courier office to his car.

Kerala youth allegedly thrashed by headload workers for not paying gawking wages
news Crime Monday, January 06, 2020 - 09:15

A youth from Kozhikode was allegedly thrashed by a group of headload workers on Sunday for refusing to pay ‘nokkukooli’ or gawking wages. Ramanattukara native Faiz was beaten up by three headload workers at Palayam in Kozhikode while he was transporting some goods from a courier office to his car.

Faiz had gone to the courier office in Palayam to collect tyres that had come for him. The incident happened at around 11 am on Sunday while Faiz was shifting the tyres to his car to transport, when a few headload workers approached and blocked him from moving the goods.

Nokkukooli is a practice supported by trade unions in Kerala, where headload workers demand payment for merely watching the goods get loaded or unloaded by merchants or houseowners. 

“I went to the courier office on getting a call that four tyres which I had ordered had reached from Bengaluru. I paid them the fees, the extra service charge and was shifting the tyres to the car with the help of a friend. When we were about to leave, some headload workers came thumping and blocking the car,” Faiz told Media One.

When the youth declined to pay the gawking wages they demanded, he was allegedly pulled out from the car and thrashed. “They demanded for ‘nokkukooli’. I said we had paid all the required fee to the courier office and that if they want they can ask the office people. Hearing this, they pulled both of us out of the car and hit my stomach, punched my face and abused us,” Faiz alleged. 

Meanwhile, the Kasaba police have registered a case on the complaint of Faiz. But as per the police, the complaint was registered for thrashing the youth and it has no mention about gawking charges. A case has been registered against three identifiable headload workers. They have been charged under Sections 341(Punishment for wrongful restraint), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (1) (506 (1) of IPC (Punishment for criminal intimidation) read with 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Though nokkukooli is illegal in Kerala, it is still being practised by headload workers with the support of trade unions in many places. In 2018, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had slammed the gawking wage culture saying that it was not correct. 

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