The mother of Jishnu Prannoy, the engineering student who had committed suicide, following harassment by college authorities, was on Wednesday pushed down and dragged on the road before being bundled into a police van by Thiruvanathapuram’s cops right in front of the police headquarters.
As all this happened under the watchful gaze of scores of cameras, live visuals played out across the state evoking a huge outcry.
Mahija, Jishnu’s mother along with 16 other family members had arrived at the DGP’s office located inside the Police headquarters to start a hunger strike. They were protesting against the police’s inability to arrest the accused in Jishnu’s case despite the police filing an FIR against them. After all assurances had fallen flat, the family said, they were pushed to take this extreme step.
“We went to everyone including the chief minister. The DGP also assured us on 27 March that the culprits would be caught soon. But since nothing has been done we decided to protest peacefully in our own way. Now the police wants to arrest us,’’ said Sreejith, Jishnu Prannoy’s uncle.
Heart rending scenes broke out at the road that connects the Police headquarters with the Governor’s residence as men and women in uniform dragged a sari-clad Mahija through the road.
Mahija could be heard saying, “I am a mother who lost my son and I am waiting for justice for the last 81 days. Don’t you have any mercy?’’ Her wails and cries fell on deaf ears as she was bundled into a police van along with others.
For a few moments the housewife had even collapsed right at the center of the road. The shock on the street soon translated to anger on the social and traditional media with who’s who of Kerala calling it nothing but police high handedness on an unsuspecting family.
First indications that things were getting out of hand for the police came when VS Achuthananthan, the former chief minister of Kerala and the current Chairman of the Administrative Reforms, called up the DGP and expressed his strong displeasure.
The next step was when the chief minister himself sent the top brass of the Kerala Police into damage control mode. The Inspector General of Police, Thiruvananthapuram range, Manoj Abraham followed by the DGP Loknath Behera visited Mahija who was by then shifted to a government hospital.
But they were met with staunch protests by student wings of both the BJP and the Congress. The Congress-led UDF which is in Opposition in Kerala has called for a state wide dawn to dusk hartal (strike) on Thursday. The BJP has meanwhile declared strikes in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
The DGP soon called for a thorough investigation into the matter saying that he had intelligence reports that apart from the family members, some ‘outside elements’ had also infiltrated the protest to sabotage it and those could be the trouble makers.
The IG too who spoke to the media said an inquiry would be done especially on the Museum police station inspector who allegedly kicked and abused Mahija and her husband.
“This should not have happened and we will look into all the circumstances that led to this incident. I have asked the IG to inquire into the incident and submit a report by evening. Without a proper inquiry no action can be initiated,’’ said Loknath Behera, DGP to waiting media persons.
The Congress has meanwhile called the incident shocking. “The entire incident is so inhuman. How can you treat a woman on the road like this? There is no justification for the police action,” said former chief minister Oommen Chandy.
BJP’s former union minister and the current (one and only) MLA in Kerala, O Rajagopal, expressed shame at the incident. As if to testify to what Jishnu’s family claimed, Rajagopal added, “Not just on the road, I am being told that even when they were being taken in the van, some policemen abused and manhandled them. This is a very serious incident which shows how police is ruling the state.”
A Tale Of Police Inefficiency
81 days have elapsed since Jishnu’s body was found hanging at the Nehru College of Engineering at Pambadi.
The college authorities had initially said that Jishnu had committed suicide out of shame after he was caught cheating in an examination. But the college could not provide any evidence of the boy having cheated to neither the police nor the Kerala Technical University that had sent a fact finding team to the institution.
The police investigation had pointed towards torture and harassment as the cause of death, the postmortem report on Jishnu had indicated injury marks on various places in his body. This has led to huge protest by students against the management of the self financing private college.
The director of the college, principal, vice-principal and the PRO had been booked for abetting suicide. Though the director was arrested (and let off) on Tuesday after protests by the family, all others continue to be at large.
A lot of evidence, including recovery of blood stains from the room of the accused, had also emerged, pointing towards foul play on part of the college authorities.
On Monday, police had also acquired crucial WhatsApp and other messages sent by Jishnu which indicate that he had protested against some of the college’s policies. Police now believe that this could have turned the college management against him.
Despite the police coming down with an iron hand on Mahija, the family says it would continue its protest till they get justice. “If they think by attacking my mother, we will stop our protest then they are wrong. From now on I will go to the DGP’s office for hunger strike,’’ added Arya, Jishnu Prannoy’s sister.
Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 17:16 PM