Updated: February 23, 2018 5:11:09 pm
A day after a tribal man was allegedly beaten to death by an irate mob on charges of stealing food from a shop, police have taken two persons into custody, an investigating official said. Several others, suspected to be part of the mob involved in the incident that took place at Attappady in Palakkad district of Kerala, are being questioned. The area is also witnessing heightened public protests with locals demanding that all the accused in the case be arrested before the postmortem examination of the body is conducted. Meanwhile, the BJP has given a call for bandh at Mannarkkad taluk.
On Thursday, Madhu, a 27-year-old tribal youth of Kaduka Manna region in Attappady, was caught by a group of people, tied up for several hours and reportedly beaten with sticks. The charge was that Madhu would steal rice and other food items from shops in the area. The man was later handed over to the police at Mukkali junction but died on his way to the hospital. An official at the Agali police station said there was a theft complaint against the man in 2016 and that he appeared to be mentally unsound.
In an interview to a Malayalam news channel, Malli, Madhu’s mother, said her son had been living in the forests for nine months and he was not a thief. She held the locals responsible for her son’s death.
Meanwhile, a video of a mob supposedly recovering a bag of stolen food items from Madhu has gone viral on Facebook. A young man, identified as Ubaid TU, went a step further by posting a selfie with a tied-up Madhu in the background. Ubaid’s Facebook profile states him to be a student at the University of Calicut and a resident of Mannarkkad. Police did not answer queries on whether Ubaid has been interrogated or taken into custody.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a Facebook post, condemned the incident and said such cases tar the image of Kerala as a progressive society. “Strict action will be taken against the accused. DGP has been given directions in this regard. Such attacks are not apt for a progressive society. This is not acceptable. Such incidents happening in Kerala malign our social and cultural advancements,” he wrote.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala hit out at the government and the police force for allowing such incidents to happen. Equating the incident to the flogging of Dalits in Gujarat, the Congress leader said Madhu’s killing has “shocked the conscience of Kerala”. He demanded immediate arrests of the accused.
Terming the incident as unfortunate, Kerala DGP Loknath Behera said Agali DySP TK Subramanian will be the investigating officer in the case under the leadership of Palakkad Superintendent of Police. Thrissur Range IG MR Ajithkumar will oversee the probe and a special team has been constituted.
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