In a horrifying act from Kerala which has sent shockwaves across the country, a tribal man, Madhu, was lynched by a mob of locals, led by K Hussain and Abdul Kareem, over the accusation of stealing 1 kg of rice.
27-year-old Madhu was beaten to death over allegation of theft in Kadukumanna village in Attappady, near Palakkad on Thursday night. He was tied up with his own lungi and severely beaten with sticks, before police intervened. According to the sources, the youth began vomiting in the police vehicle while being taken to the police station, and though he was taken to the hospital by the police, he was declared brought dead.
Shockingly, one of the alleged attackers even shared a selfie with the hapless victim.
Protests Force Police to Act
An intense protest by tribals on Friday, with hundreds coming out to block the main road, forced police to swing into action and arrest 2 key accused – K Hussain, a trader of Pakkulam, and Abdul Kareem of Mukkali. 9 more were arrested on Saturday. Out of 11 arrested, a total of 8 have been charged for murder. The perpetrators have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal code and the Forest Act, including murder and illegal confinement.
“We want action to ensure that we can live in peace. After all, why was he killed? In the name of a kilo of rice? We can’t allow this to continue,” said a tribal youth.
According to the FIR registered at Agali police station, a group of seven local residents cornered Madhu inside the forest nearby and detained him at a bus shelter in Mukkali. It stated that when police arrived, K Hussain, Abdul Kareem, A P Ummer, Abdul Rahman, Abdul Latheef, Manu Damodaran and Mathachan Joseph pushed Madhu into the jeep along with a bag of rice, claiming that he had stolen it.
The autopsy report of Madhu has revealed that the victim died of severe internal bleeding. Madhu, who was attacked by the lynch mob in the forest near Palakkad on Thursday evening, later died at a police station, after suffering severe injuries to his head, ribs and chest. Following the autopsy, the body was taken to his home near Agali in Palakkad district on Saturday.
Madhu, suspected to be mentally unsound, hailed from Kadukumanna settlement of Attappady, one of the largest and most backward tribal hamlets in the state, police said.
Tortured to Death
The local people had allegedly caught Madhu (27), son of late Mallan and Malli, on Thursday afternoon from the forest where he had been living. Videos and photographs showed the mob thrashing the shabbily dressed, defenceless and weak youth after tying his hands to his body with his own lungi.
After torturing him for hours in the forest, they reportedly brought him to the village square at Mukkali near Attapadi on Thursday evening and subjected him to “public trial” and search for evidences claiming that he was responsible for the several incidents of theft in the area. However, no valuable articles except some rice and other things were found from his bag.
Madhu was later handed over to the police who reached the spot. Reports quoting the FIR registered by the police said the tribal youth, who had vomited in the police vehicle, died before reaching the health centre at Agali. The FIR said that on the way to the hospital Madhu had confirmed to the police that the local people had beaten and kicked him by calling him robber.
Muslim League MLA’s aide took selfie during lynching
The man who shared a selfie while Madhu was being lynched has been identified as Ubaid TU, an aide of Mannarkkad MLA N Shamsuddin (Muslim League). However, the legislator said though he was present he ‘only took a selfie’ and did not beat Madhu.
Madhu’s Family Demands Justice
Tribals and human rights activists staged protests in various parts of the state and demanded strict action against the accused. Madhu’s mother said that her son was living in caves and surviving off the forest, and rejected the accusation that he had stolen anything. Madhu’s family has refused to cremate his body till those responsible are brought to book.
“My son lost his father 10 years ago, and has been living in the forest for the last eight years. He was not a thief. He used to buy provisions from the village to cook in the forest. Everyone in this region knows him. He has never assaulted anyone. But still, they didn’t allow him to live,’’ said Malli, a helper at the local anganwadi, speaking about the eldest of her three children.
Malli belongs to the Kurumba tribe and is a resident of Chindakki colony in Attappadi, one of Kerala’s most impoverished areas that has been hitting the headlines regularly over the years for malnutrition deaths involving tribal children.
Madhu’s sister Chandrika has accused the Forest Department officials of failing to do their duty.
“Madhu lived in the forest in a cave and access to this place is only to those who have the right. We are surprised how this group of people managed to go into the forest and beat him up,” Chandrika said. “Moreover, after he was beaten up, he was made to walk from inside the forest to the police station. He was hardly able to walk,” Chandrika said describing the attack that took the social media and the Pinarayi Vijayan government by storm.
“When Madhu asked for water, he was teased and after giving a few drops they dropped the rest of the water on the ground to mock him.” Chandrika said while an injured Madhu struggled to walk with his injuries, a forest department jeep followed him.
“Madhu had several relatives in Chindakki colony, from whom he used to collect food and other provisions. We hadn’t heard of any theft cases against him,’’ said Asha, a panchayat member representing Kadukumman ward, where Madhu’s family stays.
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