Custodial torture of Dalit youths in Kerala:
Thiruvananthapuram, March 26: In the ongoing series of custodial torture against marginalised segments in Kerala, yet another heinous incident had taken place at Punalur in Kollam district. The victims were five Dalit youths, returning from a temple festival on March 23 night. Besides inflicting physical torture, one drunken policeman also tried to make one of the victims to forcibly drink urine.
The five youths, belonging to Thumbode Varangode Dalit colony, are : Aneesh (19), Podimon (19), Anilkumar (19), Santhosh (17) and Ratheesh (17). All of them were later admitted to the Punalur Government Hospital. The police torture had damaged Anilkumar's ears and hearing capability.
They were caught by police at KSRTC bus station, Punalur, while returning from the Maniyar temple festival at Ashtamangalam past midnight. The police team headed by local Sub-Inspector forcibly took them to the police station despite the plea that they were returning from the temple festival. The police also destroyed the fancy materials they purchased from the festival ground. At the police station, all the five were subjected to severe torture. When the totally worn out Anilkumar begged for water, a policeman, Chackochan, in drunken state gave him a bottle containing urine and ordered him to drink it.
The police released them from custody only next morning after relatives of the victims sought the help of local Municipal Corporator. Before setting them free, the police also warned them with dire consequences for passing the information to outside world.
After admitting into the hospital, they however complained to the SC-ST Welfare Minister and senior police authorities. Following widespread protests, the police registered a case under Section 323 and started investigation. However, the case was registered only on charges of inflicting physical assault by hand, while the police maintain silence on the more heinous crime of attempts to forcibly drink urine. Several organisations including Punalur Taluk SC-STs Joint Committee, Pulayar Mahasabha, and the CPM area committee have asked district police authorities to immediately suspend all the culprit policemen pending enquiry. The Joint Committee Taluk President, Panamannara Sukumaran, warned that mass agitations including police station march would be launched if deterrent actions are not taken against the culprits.