Atrocities against SC and ST sections look like an unending series of incidents in Kerala, especially after the 1st Pinarayi Government took over in 2016. Now, a Vanvasi tribal youth has been found dead in a tree on the premises of Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. He came to Medical College Hospital as his wife Bindu was there for her first delivery since their eighth years long married life. She delivered on February 9.
The ‘new father’ was found dead the very next day after the birth of his long-awaited child. His body was found hanging in a tree. His relatives and family members stated that he never climbed any tree. Whenever he needed to climb a tree, he used to assign someone. Viswanathan’s relatives said that the police might picture it as a suicide, but there is no reason to justify it.
Vishwanathan is from Kalpetta, Wayanad district. And Kozhikode is the neighbouring district, around two and a half hours away from his native place.
This incident reminds all the lynching of Madhu, another tribal youth of Mukkali, Attappady, near Silent Valley National Park, Palakkad district, on February 22, 2018. He was captured from a cave in the forest and beaten up by a mob on charges of alleged theft of a packet of bread. He was beaten mercilessly and then handed over to the police. He died while the police were taking him to a hospital.
Vishwanathan’s body was found hanging from a tree. And the police report said it was a suicide. But, the SC-ST Welfare Department of the Kerala Government rejected this statement. SC-ST Welfare Department says it is not right to register the case for unnatural death alone. They have instructed the police to submit a fresh report within four days.
There are reports that enquiry into Vishwanathan’s death is in progress, and police have got the CCTV visuals of the “interrogation” of Vishwanathan by a mob in front of the Medical College Hospital; there are even eyewitnesses who had seen it. It is reported police try to trace those seen in the CCTV visuals and record their statements.
Vishwanathan’s wife told the media that her husband was in extreme grief and anguish. He could not even see his wife and child. He was found missing since February 11 morning. Security men in the hospital had interrogated him for the alleged theft of a mobile phone and some money. Vishwanathan’s relatives said that he does not have any bad habit of pilferage, etc. hence his anguish due to the allegation levelled against him even though he was innocent.
Kerala State Human Rights Commission has taken up a suo motu case about Vishwanathan’s suspicious death. The Commission has asked the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Institute of Mother and Child Health to file reports in a week. According to the first report, Vishwanath had committed suicide, but now the police have changed it to “unnatural death”. But, no evidence of lynching; a mark on his neck could be due to strangling with a shawl. Initially, the bodily marks were attributed to the sharp surfaces of the tree. But, his relatives do not take these arguments. His brother Raghavan believes he would not commit suicide because he was too happy about the birth of a child; he was in ecstasy. He believes that Vishwanathan was assaulted and murdered. Reports suggest that there were blood stains on his nose and leg. He demanded a detailed enquiry. He alleged that the post-mortem was carried out without the relatives’ permission.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has registered a suo motu case in connection with the death of Vishwanathan. It is based on media reports. Commission has sent notices to State Police Chief (Director General of Police) Anil Kanth IPS, Kozhikode District Collector and Police Commissioner. They are asked to furnish the detailed report within three days, either direct or by post. They are also asked to report what actions have been taken so far.
Police have stated that CCTV visuals would be examined. BJP has demanded a thorough enquiry into the incident. Once again, it is proved that weaker sections are unsafe under the Pinarayi Government of the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).