Dalits protest Kerala inaction over beautician’s suicide
July 29 2017 09:44 PM
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DHRM president Saleena Prakkanam addresses Dalit protesters in front of the official bungalow of Backward Classes Welfare Minister A K Balan.

By Ashraf Padanna/Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala’s communist government has promised action almost two weeks after a young Dalit beautician committed suicide following torture in police custody.
AK Balan, the state’s minister for the community’s welfare, promised the protesting Dalits that he would go to the home of Vinayakan, 19, in Thrissur today.
They allege that the police arrested the youngster for speaking to an upper caste girl and tortured him brutally on July 17.
He was later found hanging at home.
“He promised us a departmental enquiry and placed two officers under suspension,” said Saleena Prakkanam, president of the Democratic Human Rights Movement (DHRM), who led the protests before the minister’s bungalow here.
“That’s the way they hush up cases of atrocities against Dalits here. We want an external agency to investigate. Atrocities against us have increased alarmingly in the state after the Left government came to power last year.”
After taking Vinayakan and his friend Sarath, who was with him while he was talking to the girl he was in love with, they kicked the boy on his chest and back with police boots.
Sarath said they wanted them to admit that they were chain snatchers.
A policeman pulled out Vinayakan’s coloured hair and asked him to cut it.
His father and other relatives say the marks on his body are proof of severe torture, but the cops maintain they had only questioned him.
“It’s nearly a fortnight now, but there was no decisive action. The minister said the police chief was conducting an enquiry and promised a government job to one of his relatives.” Prakkanam said.
“They are singling out Dalits and torture them for crimes others commit. Custodial deaths are rampant, but the mainstream political parties are not bothered. Vinayakan’s is the latest case in point.”
Dalits and tribal people constitute 10.94% of Kerala population, but they remain the most marginalised people, politically, socially and economically.
“It’s a cold blooded murder. They tortured the teenager to extract an admission from him that he’s the chain snatcher or the area. He might have lost all hopes of leading a dignified life in this society,” she told Gulf Times.
TN Prathapan, president of the opposition Congress party in the district, said the police could not arrest the real criminals but are picking up innocent persons from streets and beat them up on false charges.
The autopsy report also confirmed third-degree torture in custody as evidenced by multiple injury marks and abrasions on his chest, back of the head, trunk and toe.
His father Krishnan Kutty says the police first tried told him that his son was caught being with a woman and when he told them that he knew the girl, they said he was a chain snatcher.
He was very gloomy and upset that day and they thought it was because of the bad experience at the station.



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