It’s been a year since Madhu, a 30-year-old tribal man from Kerala’s Attapadi region in Palakkad district, died after he was attacked by a mob of men on February 22, 2018. Even after the Kerala police arrested 16 persons in connection with his death, the hearing in the case is yet to begin.
When TNM tried to find the reason behind the delay, a member of the action council that was formed to get justice for Madhu, said that it was because there is no regular judge in the Mannarkkad SC/ST special court in Palakkad district, which is looking into Madhu’s case and also that the Government took a long time to appoint a special public prosecutor in the case.
On February 22, 2018, Madhu was cornered by a group of men, who had attacked him for stealing rice from a grocery shop. They tied him up and beat him with sticks after which he was handed over to the police. Madhu collapsed and died in the police jeep as he was being taken to a Government Specialty Hospital in Kottathara.
PV Sukesh, a former teacher in a government school in Attapadi and a member of the action council told TNM that they had requested the government to change the public prosecutor who was initially put in charge of Madhu’s case. “There were rumours that he had connections with the accused. We also felt that this public prosecutor will not be able to handle the case,” said Sukesh.
The action council had requested the chief minister’s office (CMO) for a new public prosecutor. Sukesh said that though the CM’s office had promised all help from their side, it took a long time to provide us a prosecutor for the case, which is one of the reasons for the delay.
“We have finally received a special public prosecutor and the hearing of the case is slated to begin on June 3,” Sukesh told TNM.
According to media reports, AK Balan, Minister for SC/ST Development in Kerala said that the Government delayed the appointment of a special public prosecutor in this case as it felt that there was no need for one for just this single case.
The tribals in Attapadi claim that they are not happy with the way the investigation into the case is taking place. An elderly tribal man in Attapadi, who did not wish to be named, told TNM that they suspect foul play on the part of the forest officials and the police, in the way they are handling the case.
Emphasising on this point, PV Sukesh said that ever since he joined the action committee, he was being sidelined in his school as he was a government teacher. “For some reason, our protest to provide justice for Madhu is looked upon as a protest against the Government, which is why I left my job at the government school, to work full time with the action council,” he said.
Madhu’s death in February last year had sparked outrage all across the state, especially after a selfie taken by the attackers with Madhu, before he died, went viral on social media.