If there is this demand that the Home Minister in Kerala, in this case the Chief Minister himself, must go because of the umpteen failures of the police, right from the latest instance of dereliction of duty in helping the accused in the rape and death of two minor sisters in Walayar to the series of custodial deaths, it cannot be simply rejected. The police, not at the lower level, getting extra judicial powers with party blessing, is indication enough to show how bad things have turned out in the State.
As a CPM top leader in a private conversation commented, "Had this (Walayar incident) taken place when we were in the Opposition, you would have seen a bloodbath. The Home Minister would not have sat in that chair for more than a day. Fortunately, there is a directionless Opposition now."
The 3-3 win in the recent by-elections, including that in Pala, by default and the defeat in the Red bastion of Aroor, have been pushed into oblivion by the recent Walayar incident.
Public concern over such gross violations is diverted through the so-called encounters like the one in Agali forests in Palakkad where four suspected Maoists were shot.
Two years ago, two young sisters aged 13 and 9, were found hanging in their single-room house in Wayalar in Palakkad in a gap of hardly three months.
The elder sister was found hanging on January 13, 2017. On March 4, the younger one too died in similar circumstances at the same place. The post mortem reports said both the girls, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community were subjected to sexual assault.
The police report charged four - V Madhu and M Madhu (relatives of the deceased) and Shibu and Pradeep Kumar - with abetment of suicide, rape and unnatural sex under the Indian Penal Code and penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act. The case against another accused is progressing in the Juvenile Justice Board.
The Palakkad Special POCSO Court acquitted Pradeep, who used to take tuition for the elder girl, on September 30. The others were acquitted on October 25.
Immediately after the elder girl died, the younger one had said she saw one of the accused coming out of the house. When all naturally doubted whether the second one, a prime witness, was done away, the police report never ever had a murder angle.
Neither the prosecution nor the defence had a case that the girl died not by committing suicide, the court said.
"I have no hesitation to hold that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the alleged offences against the accused beyond reasonable doubt," the judge observed while acquitting Pradeep. This was also the stand in the case of the other three.
Regarding lack of scientific evidence, the judgment said: "No semen or spermatozoa could be collected either from the specimen collected from the deceased girl or from the dresses of the accused. There is absolute absence of scientific evidence to connect the accused with the alleged offence."
While some of the witnesses turned hostile, the court observed that "significant omission made by a witness in the statement given to police under Section 161 can amount to a contradiction".
Ironically, N Rajesh, who appeared for the accused in the case, was appointed, certainly through political influence, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee during the pendency of the trial. The CPM leadership claims that he gave in writing that he would not appear in the case. The Government ought to find whether he had breached this. It was only when the acquittals became controversial that he was removed from the post hardly two days ago.
When the incident happened, Chief-cum-Home Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the matter would be probed properly and stern action would be taken which he repeats after all this drama.
None of the 'culture vultures' who sign open letters when similar incidents happen elsewhere has decided to react.
There has been a smear campaign by the so-called Left sympathisers through social media to portray that the parents of the deceased kids had 'loose morals'. Despite the party having the audacity to silently justify such a claim, the basic issue remains, how police callousness and appointment the advocate as chief of a panel to protect child welfare could happen after the pre-election slogan "We'll set things right".
There is little doubt about the police high handedness and the deteriorating law and order in the State not just because of this case but also the series of custodial deaths since the party assumed power.
The death of a small-time financier in Idukki in June after being tortured while in custody with full knowledge of the district police chief was the sixth in the series.
In mid-2018, a youth died at Varapuzha in police custody as a result of mistaken identity.
On October 23, 2017, a man from Kollam died in a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, a day after he was out from police custody. In July that year, a 19-year-old youth committed suicide at his house at Pavaratty in Thrissur, again a day after he was released from police custody.
In October 2016, a person from Salem was arrested for theft and found dead in police custody in Thalassery.
A month earlier, a truck driver was found hanging at Wandoor police station, a day after he was taken into custody.
In all these cases, either the High Court or the Human Rights Commission has literally reprimanded the Government and its police, but the Minister has remained unshaken.
Embarrassing the State Government, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has summoned to Delhi the Director General of Police and the Chief Secretary to explain lapses in the Walayar case.
It is no rocket science for those following the course of events to realise the gravity of criminalisation of the police force with the blessings of the powers that be.
Equally inexplicable is the stand of the Government in the Periya twin murder earlier this year. Two Youth Congress activists were hacked to death and the accused are party men. The Government, which has upgraded the office of the Advocate General to a Cabinet rank, has spent Rs 25 lakh per sitting to bring a lawyer from outside the State to argue against handing over the probe to CBI. A debt-riddled Government that cannot pay the flood victims has no qualms in paying for the accused, pointing to the insensitivity of the Government towards crimes.
When an Adivasi was beaten to death in Attappadi, the Government did not find it necessary to provide a lawyer. If grapevine is to be believed, pittance was offered as fees so that none would take up the case.
All these fact files are pointers to the unholy nexus of the top brass of the police with the echelons of power. The top cops act in this manner as they are sure of high political backing. The finger of acquisition points only to the Home Minister who owes an explanation for the lapses or else relinquish the portfolio.