Friday, May 16, 2008

AHRC takes up case of police atrocity in Kerala

The Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong,has called upon human rights defenders everywhere to take up the cause of a Keralite who was assualuted
by a police official. The following is the text of the appeal issued by the AHRC in this regard:

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Nervazhy, a human rights organization working in Thrissur, Kerala regarding the case of assault by the local police upon an innocent person. It is reported that Mr. Kuttan while waiting for a three-wheeler to go home on 23 April 2008 was assaulted by a police officer who identified himself as attached to Cherpu Police Station in Thrissur district. After assault, Kuttan who lost consciousness was left on the public road unconscious and with injuries.

On 23 April 2008 at about 9pm Kuttan was waiting for a three-wheeler to go home. Kuttan was sitting on the ground beside a small wall constructed near the Padiyath Service Centre at the Cherpu - Chovoor public road. Kuttan was on his way back home after attending a local temple festival at Pootharakkal. Pootharakkal is about two kilometers away from where Kuttan was sitting. Before waiting for the three-wheeler Kuttan had food and drinks from a neighbouring bar.

While Kuttan was waiting for the three-wheeler, a person in police uniform approached him and asked him why he was sitting there. The officer identified as a police constable stationed at Cherpu Police Station. The officer further asked Kuttan where his house was and whether he was employed. For the questions, Kuttan answered that he was waiting for a three-wheeler to come and that his house was at Chovoor and further that he was working at the furniture workshop owned by Mr.
Sadanandan. The furniture workshop is near Chovoor.

Hearing this, without any provocation the officer shouted abuses at Kuttan and tried to lift Kuttan up holding him by his shirt. The officer pushed Kuttan on to the ground shouting at him that why he was working at Sadanandan's furniture workshop. Kuttan fell down on the ground, face down. The officer them assaulted Kuttan using his baton and also kicked him.

Kuttan started bleeding from the injuries that he sustained from the fall and from the assault. By the time Kuttan was on the public road and was crying out to the officer not to assault him. Soon Kuttan lost his consciousness. He regained consciousness after a while and he found that he was seated on the roadside and somebody had kept him in a sitting position with his back leaning a telephone post. This place was about 5-6 meters away from where Kuttan had fallen down.

When he regained consciousness Kuttan realised that he has suffered severe injuries from the assault and that he was bleeding from the injuries caused to him from the fall and from the assault. He also felt severe pain all over his body. Unable to go home due to pain, Kuttan spent the night in the varanda of a shop nearby. The next day morning Kuttan went to his employer and informed him what happened to him the previous night. Kuttan then went to the Cherpu Government Hospital along with his friend. The medical officer at Cherpu hospital referred Kuttan to the District Government Hospital for further treatment.

However, soon Kuttan started vomiting blood. He was later admitted at the Mulankunathukavu Medical College Hospital. At the hospital, the doctors have diagnosed that Kuttan has suffered several injuries on his body, including lacerated wounds above his right earlobe and other aberrations all over his body as if he was injured while being dragged around on a rough surface. The medical certificate also shows that Kuttan has suffered blunt trauma injuries as if those inflicted by a blunt edged weapon.

It is reported that the Cherpu police had a previous incident where Sadanandan, Kuttan's employer, had complained about the police officers stationed at the Cherpu Police Station, in which the officers had to publically apologise to Sadanandan. It is suspected that the constable who assaulted Kuttan was one among the police officers who was involved in this earlier dispute with Kuttan's employer. Even though Kuttan does not know the name of the officer who assaulted him, he is able to identify the officer on sight.

It is common practice in Kerala for the police officers to quiz around people during evening hours. Incidents of theft, which is in record high numbers in Kerala, is posed as an excuse for police officers to conduct random check among the public. However, this opportunity is often misused by police officers. Cases where police officers assault persons to instill fear among the local public as part of this questioning are also reported from Kerala in high numbers. In fact law enforcement in Kerala and rest of India has become the synonym of use of unwarranted force by law enforcement agencies.

The local police however deny these incidents and often pose resistance by a suspects as an excuse for use of force. These days more and more cases implicating police officers in Kerala and their connection with criminal elements in the state involved in fraud, murder, rape, women trafficking and bootlegging are being exposed in the local media.

This week, the Kerala State Police Association is holding its annual conference at Thrissur. The police have used their influence to erect sponsorship posters throughout the town from private enterprises in support of the conference. Nervazhy had also posted a poster of its own in front of the conference venue in a public place, demanding the police association to discuss issues concerning use of force and torture as one of the subjects of the conference. The poster was however removed by unknown persons within a day.

Please write to the authorities below to ensure that the incident is investigated and the officer who assaulted Kuttan be punished. The AHRC has also written to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture calling for an intervention in this case.


Dear __________,

INDIA: Please take actions against the police officer who assaulted an innocent villager in Thrissur

Name of victim: Mr. Kuttan, aged 44 years, son of Chathan, Tharayil house, Sawmill Raod, Chovoor post, Thrissur district, Kerala state

Name of alleged perpetrators: Police officer (identifiable by the victim) stationed at Cherpu Police Station, Thrissur district, Kerala state

Date of incident: 23 April, 2008

Place of incident: Cherpu - Chovoor road, near Padiyath Service Centre, Thrissur district, Kerala state

I am writing to express my concern regarding the case of Mr. Kuttan, who was assaulted for no apparent reason by a police officer stationed at Cherpu Police Station, in Thrissur district of Kerala state. I am informed that the officer assaulted Kuttan while Kuttan was waiting to get home in a three-wheeler on 23 April 2008 at about 9pm.

I am informed that the police officer who approached Kuttan while he was waiting for the three-wheeler started asking questions to Kuttan about his place of work and residential address and later started assaulting Kuttan for no reason at all. I am informed that the same officer along with his colleagues had to publically apologise to Kuttan's employer, Mr. Sadanandan, a furniture workshop owner in a complaint lodged by Sadanandan against the police officers stationed at Cherpu Police Station.
I am informed that Kuttan suffered serious injuries in the assault and was treated at the Thrissur Medical College. I am also informed that the injuries suffered by Kuttan has been recorded in the medical certificate issued to him at the Cherpu Government Hospital where he was treated first and later at the Thrissur District Government Hospital and at the Mullankunathukavu Medical College Hospital.

I therefore urge you to take all possible measures to ensure that the case is investigated thoroughly and the erring officer punished in accordance with law. In this context it is important that the investigating agency to first record Kuttan's statement. I also urge you to ensure that Kuttan is not threatened by the police officer during the course of enquiry and that all necessary action is taken so that Kuttan remains safe during the course of investigation of the case.

Yours sincerely,


1. Director General of Police
Government of Kerala
Police Head Quarters
Fax: +91 471 2729434

2. Mr. V. S. Achuthanandan
Chief Minister
Government of Kerala
North Block, Secretariat
Fax: +91 471 2333489

3. Mr. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
Minister of Home Affairs
Government of Kerala
Room No.216, Third Floor
North Sandwich Block
Govt. Secretariat
Thiruvananthapuram 1

4. Mr. Oomen Chandy
Opposition Leader
Puthupally House, Jagathy,
Fax: +91 471 2315625

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

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