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  • Kerala

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces 2
    3. Violence against women. 2
    4. Violations of the rights of the indigenous/tribal peoples 3
    5. Violations of the rights of the child. 4
    6. Violations of the prisoner's rights 4


     

    1. Overview

    Kerala with no record of armed insurgency faced serious human rights violations. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India recorded three deaths in police custody in Kerala during 2005.[1] The NHRC had recorded 6 deaths in police custody in the state during 2004-2005.[2]

    The police continued to use the infamous “Uruttu method” to torture people in custody. On 27 September 2005, a labourer identified as Udayakumar died at Fort police station in

    Thiruvananthapuram due to alleged torture by “Uruttu” method.[3] 

    On 14 December 2005, the governor of Kerala promulgated the Felonious Activities (Prevention) Ordinance known as “anti-goonda law” which empowered the government to order preventive detention up to six months of any suspects. In case a suspect is absconding, the government can confiscate his property.[4]

    The National Crime Records Bureau reported 6,762 cases of crime against women in Kerala which included 478 cases of rape, 129 cases of kidnapping, 21 cases of dowry deaths, 3,283 cases of cruelty by husband and relatives, among others during 2005.[5]

    Justice continued to elude the victim of the infamous Suryanelli serial rape case of 1996 in which a school girl was sexually exploited for over 40 days by a number of persons. On 20 January 2005, the Kerala High Court acquitted the 35 accused who had been convicted by the lower court and found one Dharmarajan guilty only of crimes related to the sex trade (procuring and selling a minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.).[6]

    Justice also continued to elude the tribal victims of police firing at Muthunga in Wyanad district on 19 February 2003. The Kerala government had ordered an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In February 2005, the CBI probe report gave the police a clean chit over the police firing at Muthunga, and instead blamed 153 tribals for the incident.[7]

    The National Crime Records Bureau also recorded 386 cases of crime against children in Kerala during 2005.[8] The state government failed to constitute the Juvenile Justice Boards as envisaged in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003, despite the fact that as on 31 July 2005, there were 534 pending cases, registered between 2002 and 2005 against accused children in juvenile courts in the state.[9]

    The jails in Kerala were overcrowded. As on September 2005, about 6,950 prisoners, excluding those on parole, were housed against the total sanctioned capacity of 5,415 prisoners.[10] Prisoners in the state's jails were regularly subjected to beatings, ill treatment and even sexual harassment.[11]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded three deaths in police custody in the state during 2005.[12] The NHRC had recorded 6 deaths in police custody during 2004-2005.[13]

    The police still used the infamous “Uruttu method” to torture people in custody. This inhuman method of torture involves rolling an iron rod over the suspect's body with two policemen applying severe pressure on both ends. Sometimes they even sit on the rod.

    The method was widely used by the police during the days of emergency in Kerala against the suspected Naxalites.[14]

    On 27 September 2005, a labourer identified s Udayakumar died at Fort police station in Thiruvananthapuram. The police allegedly used the “Uruttu method” after he demanded back Rs 4,000 which the police personnel had forcibly taken away from him. The report of the post-mortem which was conducted at Thiruvananthatpuram Medical College Hospital stated that Udayakumar died of shock after his thigh bones were crushed with an iron rod.[15] Four police officers of the Fort station were suspended after the incident and two of them were arrested immediately.[16] 

    On 2 October 2005, Murukan allegedly committed suicide after being tortured at the Nemom police station for two days. On 5 October 2005, another youth was tortured using third degree methods by police at Koyilandi in Kozhikode district.[17]

    The police were also responsible for arbitrary arrest and detention. In October 2005, a Communist Marxist Party activist identified as Shahim of Kattayikonam Kalladichavila was taken to Mangalapuram police station and beaten up by the police causing head injuries. The victim's relatives alleged that a police team led by a sub-inspector picked up Shahim and his friend Harshan while they were sleeping in the house.[18]

    3. Violence against women

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 6,762 cases of crime against women in Kerala during 2005, including 478 cases of rape, 129 cases of kidnapping, 21 cases of dowry deaths, and 3,283 cases of cruelty by husband and relatives.[19]

    On 27 December 2005, the then leader of the Opposition V. S. Achuthanandan, in a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission urged the NHRC to intervene into the ice-cream parlour sex scandal case and ensure that the human rights of the girls sexually exploited by those involved in the racket were protected. He alleged that the accused in the case with connivance of the state government had coerced, threatened or influenced with bribes the key witnesses in the case. Earlier in October 2005, the Assistant Sessions Judge-II of Kozhikode while issuing charge in the case concluded that former Minister P. K. Kunhalikutty had been subjecting minor girls to sexual exploitation over a long period of time. However, the state government, instead of booking Mr. Kunhalikutty for the crime, had been allegedly connived with him to help him escape punishment.[20]

    Justice continued to elude the victim of the infamous Suryanelli serial rape case. The Kerala High Court on 20 January 2005 acquitted the 35 accused who had been convicted by the lower court and found one Dharmarajan guilty only of crimes related to the sex trade (procuring and selling a minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.). Consequently, his sentence was reduced to five years and fines amounting to Rs. 50,000. The case involved a 16-year-old school girl from Suryanelli of Idukki district, who was transported from place to place across the state and sexually assaulted by a series of men, including some influential persons, over 40 days in 1996.[21]

    4. Violations of the rights of the indigenous/tribal peoples

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 82 cases of crimes committed against the tribals in Kerala during 2005.[22] In June 2005, a tribal woman identified as Maruthy of Padayal under Agali police station of Attappady in Palakkad district was allegedly raped and murdered by some unidentified men. The post-mortem report reportedly found 142 injuries on her body.[23]

    The tribals continued to be denied access to land and resources. On 30 July 2005, Chennan, a tribal from Vadapuram Adivasi Colony, allegedly died of malnutrition at Kallunda Adivasi Colony in Nilambur district. However, the government officials denied that Chennan had died of malnutrition.[24]

    Justice continued to elude the victims of police firing at Muthunga in Wyanad district. In 2001, the Kerala government had signed a land agreement with the adivasis. However, in complete violation of the so-called accord nothing was implemented. The Adivasis were forced to continue their protests demanding their land rights in the forest.[25] On 19 February 2003, police had opened fire on tribals and killed one tribal after they had allegedly took possession of a part of the Muthanga.[26] The Kerala government had ordered an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In February 2005, the CBI probe report gave the police a clean chit over the police firing at Muthunga, and instead blamed 153 tribals for the incident.[27]

    The National Crime Records Bureau stated that 64 cases of atrocities against the tribals were pending investigation by the police while 414 cases were pending trial at the court by the end of 2005. Although the charge-sheeting rate was as high as 98.8%, the conviction rate for the crimes committed against the tribals in the state was merely 8% during 2005.[28] The acquittal of the police personnel responsible for the killing of a tribal at Muthunga[29] is an example of administrative bias.

    5. Violations of the rights of the child

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 386 cases of crime against children, including 45 murder cases, 140 rape cases, 45 abduction cases, among others in Kerala during 2005.[30] According to Kerala government's Police Department figures, as many as 361 children became victims of crime in the State in 2004. Of this, 102 children were murdered, 159 raped and 74 reported kidnapped or abducted.[31]

    The state government failed to constitute the Juvenile Justice Boards as envisaged in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003. As on 31 July 2005, there were 534 pending cases, registered between 2002 and 2005 against accused children in juvenile courts in the state. Out of the 730 children involved in the cases, which include murder, rape, and one drug case, 701 were boys and the rest were girls.[32]

    6. Violations of the prisoner's rights

    The jails in Kerala were overcrowded. As of September 2005, about 6,950 prisoners, excluding those on parole, were housed against the total sanctioned capacity of 5,415 prisoners. In the Central Prison, Thiruvananthapuram, 1,612 prisoners including 38 females were kept as against the authorized 1,000 prisoners.[33] Prisoners in state's jails were regularly subjected to beatings, ill treatment and even sexual harassment.[34]

    The condition of the Poojappura Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram, was deplorable.

    The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) during its visit to the jail on 7 April 2005 received complaints of lack of medical attention, overcrowded cells and unclean toilets. There was only one doctor and the sick prisoners did not receive immediate and proper medical care. 30 prisoners were being housed in a room that had beds and facilities only for three. About 1,600 prisoners, including those in judicial remand were housed in crammed conditions. The toilets in the cells were unclean and lacked proper lighting.[35]



    [1]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [2]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC

    [3].  ‘Uruttu' torture leads to suspect's death, The Asian Age, 6 October 2005

    [4]. Ordinance issued to check crime, The Hindu, 15 December 2005

    [5]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [6]. Scandal in God's Own Country, The Hindu, 26 June 2005

    [7]. Probe clears cops in firing on tribals: Antony, The Times of India, 20 February 2005

    [8]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau 

    [9]. Spurt in crimes against children, The Hindu, 2 October 2005

    [10]. Increase in strength of custodial staff sought, The Hindu, 8 November 2005

    [11]. Kerala custody death revives Emergency ghosts, The Indian Express, 6 October 2005

    [12]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau 

    [13]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC

    [14]. ‘Uruttu' torture leads to suspect's death, The Asian Age, 6 October 2005

    [15]. Ibid

    [16]. Ibid

    [17]. Custodial deaths revive memories of Emergency in Kerala, The Pioneer, 7 October 2005

    [18]. CMP activist tortured in lockup, The Pioneer, 29 October 2005

    [19]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [20]. Achuthanandan moves the NHRC, The Hindu, 28 December 2005

    [21]. Scandal in God's Own Country, The Hindu, 26 June 2005

    [22]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [23]. Protest mounting over failure to book accused in rape case, The Hindu, 20 June 2005

    [24]. Tribesman dies of `malnutrition', The Hindu, 31 July 2005

    [25]. Tribals demand CBI probe, The Hindu, 17 March 2005

    [26]. Probe clears cops in firing on tribals: Antony, The Times of India, 20 February 2005

    [27]. Probe clears cops in firing on tribals: Antony, The Times of India, 20 February 2005

    [28]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau

    [29]. Probe clears cops in firing on tribals: Antony, The Times of India, 20 February 2005

    [30]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau

    [31]. Spurt in crimes against children, The Hindu, 2 October 2005

    [32]. Ibid

    [33]. Increase in strength of custodial staff sought, The Hindu, 8 November 2005

    [34]. Kerala custody death revives Emergency ghosts, The Indian Express, 6 October 2005

    [35]. SHRC member visits Poojappura prison, The Hindu, 8 April 2005

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