Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meet Aam Admi Party's prospective candidate for Thiruvananthapuram



Ajit Joy, a former IPS officer, seeking Aam Admi Party ticket to contest for the Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram, was among the prospective candidates who appeared before a screening committee set up by the party, according to a local newspaper report.

Thiruvananthapuram is now represented by Union Minister of State Shashi Tharoor (Congress). Under the LDF seat sharing formula, this is a CPI constituency and former General Secretary A B Bardhan has said the party is considering fielding a non-party man. The BJP is said to be planning to renominate former Union Minister of State O Rajagopal, who was among the unsuccessful candidates in the 2009 election.

After graduating in Law from Kerala University, Ajit Joy took the civil service examination and joined the Indian Police service in 1992. He was in the Bihar cadre. While serving as Superintendent of Police, he took leave and studied for LLM at the Harvard Law School in the US. Overruling the Bihar government’s objections, the Election Commission had ordered him to be posted as SP at Chapra when Lalu Prasad Yadav sought election from there.  In 2004, he took leave to set up practice as Supreme Court lawyer. 

Later, he resigned from the service without waiting to complete 20 years of service and qualify for retirement benefits.

In 2005 Ajit Joy joined the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for South Asia (UNODC ROSA) as Project Coordinator, Human Trafficking.

When Mahendra Singh, a three-time CPI (ML) MLA from Bagodar, was killed by hired assassins, Ajit Joy wrote an article paying a personal tribute to him, describing him in these words: “For the police, a nightmare; for the establishment, a terror; but for the people, a messiah”. He said, as SP of Giridih, he had shared a love-hate relation with him. He added, “In a land where most MLAs were corrupt, he was known to be a man of integrity. I respected him for that. However, for revolutionaries like him, opposing the entrenched interests and arrogance of the state was a mission. The police, the most visible agency of government, often became the target of his struggles. He was certainly a pain in the side for us. Which SP would like to see a national highway that connects Delhi and Kolkata blocked or his police station picketed? Singh was sure to do all this, to correct some wrong, highlight some injustice. No assembly session passed by without some uncomfortable questions from him on the police.”

On his return to Kerala, after eight years with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Ajit Joy, 45, began quietly involving himself in activities dear to him. With a friend, Riju Stephen, a US-returned geologist, he undertook a ten-day 130-kilometre trek along the Pampa, to study the condition of the polluted river and assess the progress of the efforts to save it.  A newspaper report quoted him as saying later, “A good sewage treatment plant has still not been commissioned at Sabarimala, which sees an inflow of pilgrims equivalent to the entire population of Kerala.” His copiously illustrated account of the Pampa walk can be seen at WalkforPampa.

On return from the Pampa walk, Joy writes, “Riju Stephen and I joined a new kind of revolution sweeping the country today. The revolution of the Aam Admi Party. This is the revolution that guarantees respect for humans, for environment, for justice, for dignity of the common man and a clean and decent society.”

“Be original” was the advice he gave students while an IPS officer. After Lalu Prasad was convicted and hailed in a fodder scam case, he wrote, “The real icing will only come when the loss to the state, that is the Rs 37.7 crores in question, is realized from the convicted….The corrupt should not under any cost enjoy the fruits of their corruption.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Police attack on woman lawyer: AHRC's urgent appeal

The Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, has circulated an urgent appeal for intervention in the case of the torture of a woman lawyer by the police at Thrissur, Kerala state.

The following is the text of the statement:

ISSUES: Custodial torture; impunity; police reforms; professional freedom of judges and lawyers
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the case of brutal attack by the local police of a lawyer, practising at Thrissur courts. It is reported that the incident happened when the victim in the case, Ms. R. K. Asha, went to help her client and friend Ms. Neethu. The Sub-Inspector of Police, Mr. Lalkumar, stationed at Thrissur East Police Station not only assaulted the lawyer, but detained in custody her son, on fabricated charges and assaulted the lawyer's minor daughter at the police station. The children had accompanied their mother since the lawyer was travelling at night. The Thrissur Bar protested against the incident and has organised a public rally demanding immediate action against the police officer.

CASE NARRATAIVES:

According to the information received, Ms. Neethu, a client as well as friend of the lawyer Ms. Asha, contacted Asha at about 10:00 at night on 22 February. Asha was home having dinner with her children. Neethu informed Asha that she requires immediate legal assistance, since the local police was trying to arrest and detain Neethu and her friends.

Being already late into the night, but willing to help, Asha went to meet her friend Neethu. Neethu had informed Asha that the police is trying to take them into custody from a restaurant in town. Asha took along with her, her son as well as minor daughter for company. At the restaurant, while Asha was trying to gather information from Sub-Inspector of Police, Mr. Suraj, stationed at the Thrissur West Police Station.

At this moment, the Sub-Inspector of Police from Thrissur East Police Station, Mr. Lalkumar came to the scene accompanied with other police constables. Without provocation, Lalkumar started assaulting Asha's son and daughter. The officers also in the meanwhile assaulted Neethu and her friends and dragged them into a police vehicle. Before Asha could do anything, the police also took along with them, Asha's son.
Asha followed the police vehicle to the Thrissur East Police Station. At the police station Asha tried explaining to the police officer that her son had come along with her since it was late and has nothing to do with Neethu and her friends and for whatever purpose the police have arrested Neethu. Hearing this, the Sub-Inspector of Police, Lalkumar pushed Asha out of the police station room upon which Asha fell down on the ground. Then Lalkumar started kicking on Asha's leg, wherein Asha suffered serious injuries on her both legs. Then the police dragged Asha out of the police station building. Not satisfied, the officer then slapped Asha's minor daughter. After this the officer asked Neethu was ordered to sign a release letter and was allowed to leave. They took Asha to Aswini Hospital where Asha is receiving treatment. While the police officer was assaulting Asha and her daughter, they were also using filthy language against the lawyer, the other women as well as Asha's daughter.

There is a background to this incident. About two weeks before Asha had been to Thrissur East Police Station concerning another case. At that moment, despite knowing that Asha was representing her client, the police officer Lalkumar had misbehaved with Asha, against which Asha had filed a complaint against the officer at the office of the City Police Commissioner. Asha claims that the reason why the officer assaulted Asha on this occasion was to wreck vengeance against Asha filing complaint against the officer.

Asha is a lawyer practicing at the Thrissur Bar for the past 14 years. Asha is a civil rights activist, has regularly lectured at the Police Training College, and was a member of the Thrissur Police Advisory Board. Despite all this that this officer has dared to brutally assault a lawyer shows the vested and adverse interest that the officer entertains against Asha.

No one should be assaulted at a police station. A lawyer is the officer of the court, while a lawyer is engaged in legitimate acts that are covered under the professional engagement of a lawyer with his or her client. Assaulting and torturing a lawyer, while the lawyer is discharging his or her official duties, is equal to attacking the court. Therefore, the officer has not only committed an act of torture against a citizen, but has also attacked an important institution. It is also important at this juncture to be aware that torture is not limited to acts of physical attack upon suspects, but also involves acts of violence that could be treated as punishment.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.
The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers calling for an intervention in this case.
To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER
Dear ................,
INDIA: Torture of a lawyer in Thrissur must be investigated
Name of the victim: Ms. Asha R. K., Advocate, Thrissur Bar Association, Ayyanthole Post, Thrissur, Kerala state, India
 
Alleged Perpetrators: Mr. Lalkumar, Sub-Inspector of Police, Thrissur East Police Station, Thrissur, Kerala state, India
 
Date of incident: 22 February 2014
 
Place of incident: Thrissur East Police Station, Thrissur District, Kerala State, India

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to you to express concern about the assault and injuring of a lawyer by the Sub-Inspector of Police at the Thrissur East Police Station. The incident reported to the AHRC is as follows:

The victim in this case is a lawyer with 14 years of standing at the Thrissur Bar. Ms. Neethu, a client as well as friend of the lawyer Ms. Asha, contacted Asha at about 10:00 at night on 22 February. Asha was home having dinner with her children. Neethu informed Asha that she requires immediate legal assistance, since the local police was trying to arrest and detain Neethu and her friends.

Being already late into the night, but willing to help, Asha went to meet her friend Neethu. Neethu had informed Asha that the police is trying to take them into custody from a restaurant in town. Asha took along with her, her son as well as minor daughter for company. At the restaurant, while Asha was trying to gather information from Sub-Inspector of Police, Mr. Suraj, stationed at the Thrissur West Police Station.
At this moment, the Sub-Inspector of Police from Thrissur East Police Station, Mr. Lalkumar came to the scene accompanied with other police constables. Without provocation, Lalkumar started assaulting Asha's son and daughter. The officers also in the meanwhile assaulted Neethu and her friends and dragged them into a police vehicle. Before Asha could do anything, the police also took along with them, Asha's son.

Asha followed the police vehicle to the Thrissur East Police Station. At the police station Asha tried explaining to the police officer that her son had come along with her since it was late and has nothing to do with Neethu and her friends and for whatever purpose the police have arrested Neethu. Hearing this, the Sub-Inspector of Police, Lalkumar pushed Asha out of the police station room upon which Asha fell down on the ground. Then Lalkumar started kicking on Asha's leg, wherein Asha suffered serious injuries on her both legs. Then the police dragged Asha out of the police station building. Not satisfied, the officer then slapped Asha's minor daughter. After this the officer asked Neethu was ordered to sign a release letter and was allowed to leave. They took Asha to Aswini Hospital where Asha is receiving treatment. While the police officer was assaulting Asha and her daughter, they were also using filthy language against the lawyer, the other women as well as Asha's daughter.

There is a background to this incident. About two weeks before Asha had been to Thrissur East Police Station concerning another case. At that moment, despite knowing that Asha was representing her client, the police officer Lalkumar had misbehaved with Asha, against which Asha had filed a complaint against the officer at the office of the City Police Commissioner. Asha claims that the reason why the officer assaulted Asha on this occasion was to wreck vengeance against Asha filing complaint against the officer.
Asha is a lawyer practicing at the Thrissur Bar for the past 14 years. Asha is a civil rights activist, has regularly lectured at the Police Training College, and was a member of the Thrissur Police Advisory Board. Despite all this that this officer has dared to brutally assault a lawyer shows the vested and adverse interest that the officer entertains against Asha.

No one should be assaulted at a police station. A lawyer is the officer of the court, while a lawyer is engaged in legitimate acts that are covered under the professional engagement of a lawyer with his or her client. Assaulting and torturing a lawyer, while the lawyer is discharging his or her official duties, is equal to attacking the court. Therefore, the officer has not only committed an act of torture against a citizen, but has also attacked an important institution. It is also important at this juncture to be aware that torture is not limited to acts of physical attack upon suspects, but also involves acts of violence that could be treated as punishment.

I therefore request you to:
1. Undertake an independent investigation in the case;
2. That a judicial magistrate records the statement of the victim and witnesses;
3. That the officer accused in the case is placed on immediate suspension from active service;
4. That the officer should be prosecuted.

Yours sincerely,
-----------------------------------------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Ramesh Chennithala
Minister for Home and Vigilance
Ground Floor, Main Block
Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
INDIA
Fax + 91 471 2327451

2. Mr. Balasubramanian (IPS)
Director General of Police, Kerala
Police Headquarters, Trivandrum – 695010, Kerala
INDIA
Fax + 91 471 2726560
E-mail: dgp@keralapolice.gov.in

3. Chairperson
Kerala Women's Commission
Near Lourdes Church, P.M.G
Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram - 4, Kerala
INDIA
E-mail: keralawomenscommission@yahoo.co.in

4. Honourable District & Sessions Judge
Civil Lanes, Thrissur
Ayyanthole Post, Thrissur, Kerala
INDIA

5. District Police Chief
Civil Lanes, Thrissur
Ayyanthole Post, Kerala
INDIA

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Between sensationalism and suppression



The Kerala media which diligently report developments relating to Malayalees as also others with roots in Kerala have maintained discreet silence over a story which has been making headlines in Chennai for a week and has been picked up by newspapers elsewhere too.

The story is about a Mercedes Benz running over three children at the dead of night, resulting in the death of one of them in hospital. The incident occurred on May 23.  Police allege the driver and other occupants were drunk.

It is not clear who was at the wheel at the time of the accident: the owner, who slipped away from the scene of the accident and is said to be still at large or his driver. According to newspaper reports, both of them have alleged that the police is framing them.

What has earned the hit-and-run story big headlines is the VIP angle. The car belongs to Shaji Purushothaman, son of M.P. Purushothaman, Chairman of the Empee’s group which owns distilleries and hotels. M.P.Purushothaman’s daughter is married to Vayalar Ravi’s son but he has connections across the political spectrum. When CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan was forced to break journey in Chennai while flying to New Delhi for a Politburo meeting following the discovery of bullets in his laptop case at the airport, it was to Purushothaman’s house that he drove to spend the night.

The Hindu is taking in this story an interest which is uncharacteristic, presumably driven by the compulsions of competition – this is the kind of thing the Times of India revels in – as also the current editor’s desire to reshape the paper according to his own light.  

M.P. Purushothaman, apart from being a prominent businessman, has been associated since long with Malayalee and Sree Narayana organizations in Chennai.

The failure of the two large Malayalam newspapers which have bureaus in Chennai to report developments relating to this case in their Kerala editions must be deliberate.

Between sensationalism and suppression, there is an acceptable, professional way of handling events of this kind.  

For the benefit of those who wish to know more, I am giving below links to stories which have appeared in the national newspapers:

The Hindu:

Who are the Purushothamans?

Both Shaji, driver claim they have been framed in accident case

RTI activists up in arms over speeding Merc case

Mystery deepens over Egmore car accident case

A day later, boy hit by drunk car driver dies

Speeding car hits 5 at bus shelter in Egmore


Other newspapers:

Shaji had own hard-partying set of friends

Tamil Nadu business family scion who drove over kids is on the run

Monday, January 21, 2013

Muslim girls break conservative barriers at youth festival

KA Antony
Oman Tribune
MALAPPURAM Conservative barriers appear to be fading to a certain extend even as fundamentalism is gaining strength in a section of the Muslim community all over the country.

Sultana Najeeb from Thiruvananthapuram was the star of the day as she stood beaming like a princess while posing for a photo session after winning an ‘A’ grade in Bharatanatyam on Day Two of the Kerala State School Youth Festival now underway at Malappuram.

Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which takes inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram.

Sitting on a chair opposite to her was none other than Kalamandalam Khadeeja, the first Muslim girl to defy the diktats of the clerics and the community 54 years ago to fulfil her passion to learn dance from Kalamandalam.

Kalamandalam is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern states of India, with the special emphasis on Kerala.

Call it an unexpected meeting between Kalamandalam Khadeeja and young Sultana, but it meant a lot as to how time is running fast and changes are taking place.

It is not only in music, drama and instrumental music and dance closely linked with Hindu temples that the Muslim girls are seeking new avenues.

The surge of Muslim girls into the world of Information Technology and medical science in Kearla is also amazing.

It wasn’t Sultana alone who made it great in the 53rd edition school youth festival.

Fatima Shehnaz hogged the limelight through her sterling performance of ‘Nangyarkoothu’ and Manzia from Valluvampuram, Malappuram, who got three ‘A’ grades in Bharatanatyam, Kuchupudi and Kerala Natanam, all Indian dance forms, were proof enough for the way the Muslim girls are changing.

Looking back to the old days, Khadeeja told Oman Tribune that she felt honoured when a girl from her community came to meet her at the venue of the youth festival. “I don’t know if she would be aware of the hardships faced by girls from our community yearning for knowledge and fresh air. It was forbidden in those days and only a few like Nilambur Aiysha and me broke the barriers,” she said adding that she is happy that she could witness a huge presence of Muslim women who had thronged the venues of the festival.

“The psyche of the Muslim women is changing and that too fast. But male chauvinism is not on the wane,” she said.

Khadeeja’s mission is to open a dance school close to her house at Venniyoor near Tirur in Malappuram.

Tears rolled down her cheeks while narrating the hardships she and her family had to suffer after she decided to join the Kalamandalam.

“At that time, my family was in Cheruthuruthy and I was the lone Muslim girl to get an admission. Those were the formative periods of Kalamandalam and poet the late Vallathol Narayana Menon was at its helm. I was one among the seven students selected by him to learn dance. But my family had to face the wrath. Even my sister’s marriage had to be conducted without the knowledge of the community,” she said.

Nilambur Ayisha, who too had bitter experiences said that she should always welcome a positive trend from Muslim girls in entering the world of art, literature and theater.

 She was one of the first women from the community to appear on stage.

“When I decided to act in Ijj Nalla Manushanakan Nokku, written by EK Ayamu, my mother was horrified and cried. It was inconceivable for any one in community that a Muslim girl from a conservative family in Malappuram could become an actress.

She said the late communist leader EMS Namboodiripad had played a key role in her becoming an actress.

“Those were the time of social reformation and it was he who had suggested that it would be great if a girl from Muslim community acted in plays. I made my debut before a huge crowd at Feroke in 1953. My family was promptly ostracised, but I continued to act,” she said.

Rubiya, who had learnt Kathakali, a dance form, had to face the same hardships.

“God is one and when I pay ritualistic obeisance through ‘mudras’ (dance gestures) I am imploring not just the Hindu deities but the supreme creator which we call by different names,” said.

The hope in their eyes still glittered and as Salim Ideed Thangal, a senior journalist pointed out, more changes could be expected in the future. (Oman Tribune, January 21, 2013)

Monday, December 31, 2012

PUCL demands probe into Mavelikkara arrests



The People’s Union for Civil Liberties have asked Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan to order an inquiry into the illegal arrest of seven persons at Mavelikkara.

The following is the text of the letter:

30-12-2012
My Dear Home Minister,

Sub: Request to order an enquiry into the illegal arrest of seven individuals by the Mavelikkara police: regarding
An element of compulsion and dire necessity directs me write you the following.

We are very much disturbed and perturbed to hear the news that seven individuals including two minor girls were illegally taken into custody by the Mavelikkara police on 29-12-2012 from Cherumadom Lodge where they had assembled to discuss some political issues. They include Mr Gopal, a Scientist from Tamil Nadu.

Immediately on receipt of the information that these seven individuals were detained at the police station, as a human right activist, I had made three frantic calls to Ph no 0479-2344342 (Mavelikkara police station). Curiously, on all the three occasions, the personnel at the other end attended the phone but deliberately refused to supply any information in a matter where the human rights of seven individuals were involved. The unwarranted act on the part of the Mavelikkara police is not at all conducive to a police system in a democratic country like ours. I was constrained to take up the matter with the police headquarters and also with Sri V.S. Achuthanandan, the opposition leader.
Now, it is reliably learnt that the five individuals are in judicial custody while the two minor girls are confined at the nearby Balabhavan. They have been booked under different sections of ULPA and Section 120-A of IPC, which is very easy for the police to clamp on them.  It is reported in today’s Hindu: ‘Apart from seizing six mobile phones and a laptop from the detained persons, the police could not come across any documents or other incriminating evidence that could establish any Maoist connection’.

It is quite evident that the Kerala police want to create a bogey that some extremist groups are operating here and under its shade the police can wield more powers, put down all the democratic forms of protest against the anti-people policies of both the Central government and that of the State government. I am reminded of the statement made by former Central Home Secretary Sri Padmanabhaya, that the police force in India which is not professionally equipped is demanding more and more powers under the garb of maintaining law and order.

If individuals who assemble to discuss political issues affecting them and their dear country in a democratic way are taken into custody and harassed, the political leaders who are also the powerful executives of the state discuss and decide to sell out the country to the American Imperialism and the corporate bodies, are also to be booked under the ULPA and Section 120-A of IPC

It is requested that you personally look into the matter, direct a police officer of proven character and integrity to inquire into all that is transacted at the Mavelikkara police station on 29-12-2012, restore democratic way of administration in the state, release all the seven individuals forthwith, book the police officials for their high handedness, show them their ways.

With regards and thanking you,
Sincerely yours,
P.A. POURAN
ADVOCATE

Thursday, July 19, 2012

കേരള സമരഭൂപടം

കേരള സമരഭൂപടത്തിൽ ഒപ്പിട്ടുകൊണ്ടാണ് മേധാ പട്കർ കഴിഞ്ഞ ഞായറാഴ്ച തിരുവനന്തപുരം വി.ജെ.ടി. ഹാളിൽ ചേർന്ന ജനകീയ അസംബ്ലി ഉദ്ഘാടനം ചെയ്തത്. തുടർന്ന് സുഗതകുമാരി, കെ. അജിത, സി.ആർ. നീലകണ്ഠൻ തുടങ്ങിയവരോടൊപ്പം ഞാനും അതിൽ ഒപ്പു വെച്ചു.

സമരഭൂപടത്തിൽ ജനകീയ സമരങ്ങൾ നടക്കുന്ന എഴുപതിൽ പരം സ്ഥലങ്ങൾ  അടയാളപ്പെടുത്തിയിട്ടുണ്ട്.

സമരങ്ങൾ നടക്കുന്ന എല്ലാ പ്രദേശങ്ങളും അടയാളപ്പെടുത്താൻ കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടില്ലെന്നും അവ കൂടി പിന്നീട് ചേർക്കുമെന്നും ജനകീയ അസംബ്ലി സംഘടിപ്പിച്ച നാഷനൽ അലയൻസ് ഓഫ് പീപ്പിൾസ് മൂവ്‌മെന്റ് വക്താവ് പറഞ്ഞു. 

(Photo: courtesy Anas Basheer Kaniyapuram

Thursday, May 31, 2012

T.P.Chandrasekharan murder case: AHRC review of developments

The political debate that followed the murder of Mr. T. P. Chandrashekharan in Kerala provided a unique opportunity for reformation of the policing system in the state. However, none in the state, not even the police, is willing to take up the chance and garner the support needed to end the despicable misuse of the police institution to political appetites and ambitions. It is both appalling and disheartening to witness the loss of honour and morale in such an important state institution, loss which smothers the institution's capacity to respond to everyday crime and demand change.

What made this particular murder so important? T. P. Chandrashekharan was a politician who had left the Communist Party of India (Marxist) because of intra-party divisions. He did however continued his political work with the Revolutionary Marxist Party, a decision which apparently irked the CPI(M). It was reported that the CPI(M) reacted to this perceived betrayal by hiring assassins to murder Chandrashekharan. On 4 May 2012, a gang of criminals, most of them arrested since, waylaid the victim and slashed him in the face 51 times using machetes, leaving him for dead. Chandrashekharan died later that same day on his way to the hospital.

The ruling coalition in the state responded immediately by issuing statements accusing the CPI(M) as the organisation responsible for ordering the murder. The CPI(M) countered those allegations with claims that the ruling party is engaged in a witch-hunt to corner the CPI(M), the leading opposition party. The allegations, denials and ripostes between the two parties continue today, the furore throwing new light onto the state of affairs of policing in Kerala.

None other than the Inspector General of Police in Kerala issued the first statement that seemed to suggest the partiality of the police. Within 72 hours of the murder, the IGP had stated that the murder had been carried out for private gains; this statement naturally implied that the CPI (M) had nothing to do with the murder. It is suspicious that the IGP could have issued such a statement before the formal investigation had even been concluded. A Special Investigation Team constituted by the state government then pieced together statements from suspects in custody that revealed the assassins had been in constant communication with CPI(M) leaders immediately before and after the murder. A local party leader who had been arrested confessed to arranging a safe house for the assassins and to paying them a "fee" before and after the murder. The overwhelming volume of evidence that surfaced within five days of the murder collectively pointed to the complicity of CPI(M) in the murder. This soon forced the IGP to correct his earlier position. The IGP subsequently denied having made such a statement at all.

Leaders from the upper echelons of the CPI(M) began issuing statements for which they would have been charged with organised crime – in any other context. Statements include, "…if the CPI(M) wanted, it could undertake the murder beyond detection… had we been behind the murder we would also have the honesty to own up to it as we have in the past…" That a political party is responsible at all for murder and proudly proclaims it demonstrates callousness, impunity and disregard for the law. This is a moral affront to the people of Kerala and for India. But there is a further truth to be told from such observations.

The police in Kerala and throughout India are first and foremost servants of the people of India, and instruments of greater goods – justice and peace. The reality is, however, that the police are not the impartial and independent body they should be. Neither do the police seem to desire that independence. A leader of the CPI (M), Mr. Sitaram Yechury, issued another noticeably more conciliatory statement that the party would "cooperate" with the investigation. Such an attitude betrays the corollary of deciding to cooperate – that an option to not cooperate with the police is also available to the party. Can the police even discharge their duties and properly investigate a crime when a dismissive and criminal political party is perpetually challenging their authority? Does justice itself not deserve to be prioritised over the inter-party mud-slinging and political intrigue? What about the duty the police owe to justice and to the Indian people?

The CPI(M) pre-emptively pointed fingers at the ruling coalition, slamming it for abusing its authority and misappropriating police apparatus to wreak vengeance against a powerful opposition. What is easily overlooked in such political manoeuvring is the fact that the CPI(M) has only recently become part of the opposition. Until 2011, the CPI(M) had been the ruling party and was itself in a position to exploit state machinery. Contributing greatly to the building thesis that the police is critically influenced by political actors is the observation that during the five years of CPI(M) led state government, the police institution had drafted the Kerala Police Act 2010. This Act was drafted by the police, not the legislative assembly which has actual legal mandate to do so. The lack of clarity, loose and incoherent use of legal language and successful attempts to replace the 1861 Indian Police Act with the Kerala Police Act awarded much unprecedented powers to the police. This circumvention of institutional safeguards and constitutional guarantees provided otherwise in the 1974 Criminal Procedure Code bodes ill for the protection of any individual's constitutional, legal and human rights.

While undertaking such an important task (of drafting an operational framework for the state police), the government not only did not actively encourage input by impartial experts but even ignored a draft prepared by a committee led by world-renowned jurist, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyyer. The submissions and suggestions by other organisations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) obviously held even less weight in the eyes of the government and state police. The product of such undirected and little informed work was a particularly good example of how legislations should not be. The CPI(M) that led the process had no moral or legal right to subjugate the police. For the police to gain true independence, the Kerala Police Act of 2010 will have to be rewritten.

In another unabashed demonstration of the criminality the CPI(M) was capable of, another senior member of the party, Mr Mani, made a public speech extolling the many atrocities his parties committed. Mr Mani even listed the names of persons his party had ordered to be murdered over a period of time. Such horrific acts and shameless confessions instigate fear among the people, not love and respect. Mr Mani also publicly abused widely acclaimed social activist and writer, Ms Mahasweta Devi, for visiting Chandrashekharan's family following his murder. The words Mani used against Devi, a writer so honoured by the Indian nation for bringing it glory and honour, proved rather ironically to be of a nature too base for even tabloids to reproduce in their magazines.

Yet apart from Mani's glaring moral illiteracy, Mani did also divulge telling information about how the CPI(M) were able to manipulate police investigations in each of the murders Mani claimed to possess personal knowledge of. Upon such scornful exposure of their lack of integrity and ability to investigate crime, the police were forced to respond by registering a criminal case against Mani. Yet they could do little more than that as many 'suspects' had already been convicted in court trials and the IGP had also already ordered the reopening of the murder cases. Furthermore, the police discovered many case diaries that had contained vital information concerning the corruption of the investigative process had been destroyed. The reason provided, and proven true, was that there had been a simple lack of space for the archival of all the records. This necessarily implies also that the police officers who had "tailored" the investigation to fit the purposes of their political masters could never be identified and punished.

Another incident that reflects this noose-tight and highly unequal nexus between police and politician was when a former state cabinet minister met a CPI(M) comrade in jail. After the meeting, the minister allegedly telephoned one of the investigating officers in the Chandrashekharan murder and demanded to know why his comrade had been tortured during questioning. The former minister expressed anger because he had been expressly assured by the IGP himself that his comrade would not be tortured since the "case is politically sensitive". The former minister threatened that once he regained his office as cabinet minister he would see to it that the officer is "dealt with". The officer, fearing for his life, reported the matter to his superior and police headquarters, who responded by providing additional security to the investigating team. Yet no arrest was made, obviously because the former minister's threat did indeed carry every possibility of being realised.

Another troubling revelation was the need for the IGP to reassure the former minister in the first place that torture will not be conducted against his CPI(M) comrade. This clearly means that torture is otherwise "routine procedure" – a clear violation of human and constitutional rights. The "favour" and special treatment given to the former minister and his comrade now in remand cannot be justified. Individuals stand equally before the law and should be treated and punished equally according to their crime. In this aspect, the police should demonstrate their honour and impartiality as well as a conviction that they owe allegiance to justice above all else. This bullying behaviour by politicians against state police who are legally and morally outside their ambit is contemptible, yet the police feel unable to free themselves from this unhealthy relationship.

None of these concerns haunt the state administration, the state or the informed people of Kerala. The political verbosity concerning Chandrashekharan's murder is perceived to be 'business as usual'. It is only some selected actors in the state's media industry who have courageously taken up the task of exposing the moral, intellectual and administrative wilting of the state police. The police themselves have not expressed concern about the painfully demoralized police constrained by the machinations of perpetually slimy politicians and their "politically sensitive", politically motivated crimes.

The police institution lacks an operational infrastructure congenial to the discharge of the most basic duties. It lacks moral and legal integrity, a culture of transparency and accountability, consistency, training and skills needed for upholding rule of law in a democratic state. And such disempowerment goes far beyond the physical manoeuvring; politicians have also mentally disarmed and co-opted the populace and the police. No one has come forward to criticise a police leadership that has grovelled, sluggish and servile, before politicians, helping obscure their criminal deeds and moral bankruptcy. After years of such servitude, perhaps it is little wonder an enslaved system does not and cannot dream of its freedom.

Kerala's police institution's powerlessness, frustration and corruption are an embarrassment and a tragedy. This lack of courage, honour and conviction has pushed the police institution into a moral and intellectual abyss, where it lies reeking of corruption and ineptitude not entirely its own. Its Machiavellian masters manipulate marionette officers to jail, not jail, torture, not torture, destroy or create evidence, smile, wave and bow as they see fit. Until these cords from which the police dangle are severed, first and foremost through the review of the Kerala Police Act of 2010, there remains little hope in Kerala for reform and true justice.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is a Hong Kong-based human rights organization.
For information and comments contact:
In Hong Kong: Bijo Francis, Telephone: +852 - 26986339, Email: india@ahrc.asia