It appears Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes in Kerala need adequate and proper attention. Viswanathan, a young vanvasi boy committed suicide on February 10, hardly a fortnight ago in Kozhikode. Police report in this regard is available in the public domain. According to the ACP’s (Assistant Commissioner of Police) report to the Human Rights Commission, Viswanathan committed suicide as a result of acute insult he suffered at the hands of a band of people who alleged pilferage against him (Viswanathan). The incident occurred on February 10 in front of the Woman & Child Development Centre, Kozhikode, where his wife had her primipara. The mob stopped him at the gate of the Centre and they examined his bag. The report says, he felt humiliated as he thought that his complexion and physique looked like that of an ’adivasi’ hence he was insulted. Due to heavy humiliation, he committed suicide by hanging in a tree opposite the Centre’s compound.
State BJP president K Surendran said the incident shows the Kerala Government’s approach towards people from tribal communities. His family should be given a compensation of Rs 50 lakh, Surendran said.
The post-mortem report does not indicate any wounds or hints of physical assault in his body. Even though the people seen in the CCTV visuals are interrogated, no evidence is obtained for listing them as the accused. Report includes the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The police team investigating the death of Vishwanathan concluded in their report that he took the extreme step as he was humiliated in public for a crime he had not committed. As per the report, Vishwanathan was accused of theft and assaulted physically, and his bag was checked for the stolen items, all of which caused great shame to him. “Vishwanathan was accused of theft because of his colour and his looks. Those who accused him of theft assumed he was the natural suspect because he was an Adivasi,” stated the report.
According to his family, Vishwanathan was beaten up on February 9 by a mob accusing him of theft.
Earlier, in 2018, Madhu, a young vanvasi, was lynched to death. A mob attacked Madhu for allegedly stealing a packet of bread. The 30 years old young man was living in a cave in the forest. It was reported those days that his mental health was not sound. The case is still in progress, even after the completion of five years, after the death, on February 22.
Another case is older than the lynching of Madhu. Two minor Scheduled Caste sisters, a 13-year-old elder and 9-year-old younger, were found hanging dead on January 13, 2017, and March 9, 2017 respectively, in Walayar, Palakkad. According to the autopsies, both were sexually assaulted hence POCSO victims, reports suggest. Their mother said, both were killed, whereas the accused were acquitted. Now, the CBI has been asked, by the court, to reinvestigate. District Child Protection Officer and Child Welfare Committee were alleged to have ‘learnt about this from newspapers’ ! District Child Welfare Committee Chairman appeared in the court for the accused of these cases! A high-level enquiry committee into this extraordinary episode has recommended to frame a law to permanently ban such officials from holding child welfare-related positions.