Media Only See What They Want. Judicial systems usually work best for rich. Government had closed its eyes to unpleasant truths.
The dead are gone, but they haunt the living when justice is denied
Twenty-five men and women are sitting on at a busy junction near the Kerala High Court on a hunger strike. They came, they protested and went virtually unnoticed by anybody.
Members of nine unrelated families, these men and women hail from every part of the state and went on a hunger strike under the banner of Kerala Advocate’s Council for Human Rights on Wednesday at the Ernakulam High Court junction in Ernakulam city.
This is the second time that the group has tried to draw attention to their problems, which should have been alleviated by the police and courts, but both institutions – paradoxically –have exacerbated them.
On June 22 during the by-elections, they had gone to Aruvikkara, hoping that either the media or the political establishment in the state would come to their aid. They say they have knocked on every door, but justice still eludes them.
Fifty-five-year-old K Madhu has all the way from Thoottikkal in Kollam district. He wants to know how his 20-year-old son Aneesh Lal died six years ago.
On September 13, 2009, Aneesh, a lorry cleaner, was found dead in a pond near a stone crusher unit near his house in Karichira. Madhu suspects that he was murdered, because Aneesh was thought to have a relationship with his employer’s daughter, who committed suicide on same day.
“Around 5.30 pm some people approached him and asked him to clean a lorry, but since it was a Sunday he initially refused. But when they insisted, he went and that was the last time I saw him alive. At night I saw him in mortuary frozen,” Madhu says.
“Though police accepted my complaint, they were not ready to listen to me. Many local prominent people approached me and offered me money. I know that some powerful people are on the other side. I knocked at every door, but got no help,” he told The News Minute.
Madhu has lost everything trying to find out what happened to his son. Today, the widower lives in a shed built on two cents of land. Madhu has sent dozens of petitions to the chief minister, home minister, the state Human Rights Commission and has also staged dharnas in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.
Leelamma is much older than Madhu, but they are united in their loss. Her son Benny Devassy too, died under suspicious circumstances, and she and her family believe that Benny’s friend Shelly is somehow involved.
Thirty-five-year old Benny was shot dead in Attappady on February 11, 2015. Benny was a photographer in Chindakki, Palakkad district. On the day he died, he and Shelly had gone fishing around 10 pm in the Bhavani River.
He was shot in the thighs and died due to loss of blood. The family suspects Shelly allegedly because his statements are contradictory. Police laxity too, has raised their suspicion.
“Police say he was shot by Maoists, but we don’t think so. His wife and two-year-old son are struggling to live. My son is lost, but at least I should know what happened to him,” 71-year-old mother Leelamma says.
Earlier this year Joshy Peter (40) was found dead at the banks of a canal in Edanad near Kalady in Ernakulam district. His brother Jolly Peter says he is protesting because he has still not received the post-mortem report even though he brother died on April 26, 2015.
“He was tortured by his wife’s family as they wanted a divorce from him and he did not want to do that. He wanted his nine-year-old son so he did not want a separation. They would often tell him that he would be dead soon,” Jolly alleges.
Jolly says that according to the police, Joshy died four days before his body was found.
“I met all the police officials and politicians. But even after seven months the police have not told me what the post-mortem report says. They say they did not receive the report, but the hospital told me that they have already handed it over to police,” he said.
Former CRPF official Thankappan Nair (71) and Bhavaniyamma (66) of Thiruvananthapuram are in debt, having to repay money they did not borrow. The couple was cheated by real estate mafia, who robbed them of all their assets including their house.
Although their children are married, they are looking after their daughter and her children, her husband died. Nair started a business – he would build houses and sell them. But when they were financially stable, one of his neighbours, a fellow member of the Naruvamoodu Cooperative Bank approached him and offered loans to construct better houses, thus fetching him higher profits.
However, the man took Nair’s signatures on documents which he used to borrow huge sums of money, of which very little made its way to Nair. Eventually, the money totalled Rs 1.48 crore. They now live in a rented two-room house with their grandchildren and daughter.
“We are constantly threatened. Those who cheated us were arrested, but they are on out on bail and have threatened to kill us. Goons attack us frequently. Our granddaughter is 19 years old, how do we keep her safe from them? They have threatened to assault her,” Bhavaniyamma says. “Sometimes we don’t even have money to get vegetables.”
Advocate Sunil M Karani, who coordinated with the families for the protest, says that there are more such stories among the rest of the families.
“These few people are the representation of a huge number of marginalised people who were denied justice from government, police and media,” Karani said.
Karani says that although the families of Aneesh, Joshy, Benny and others were offered money to the withdraw cases these men and women had braved poverty to fight for justice. “They need justice, they want to know what really happened to their loved ones. Unfortunately we have thousands of such people in the state who cannot seek justice through the courts due to lack of money.”