PV Shihab, a Civil Police Officer (CPO) assigned to the Idukki Armed Reserve police camp, is still at large after being caught on camera stealing several kilos of mangoes from a fruit shop. The robbery occurred on the 30th of last month, and Kerala police are yet to find and arrest him. Shihab has a history of criminal cases, including theft and sexual assault.
Kerala is also where an Islamist-led mob accused a Hindu vanvasi (tribal aka ST) named Madhu of robbing rice and brutally lynched him to death near Palakkad in 2018. Muslim traders wanted to signal to the vanvasis that robbery would attract instant capital punishment and murdered him in broad daylight. Many on-lookers remained silent, captured the images, and uploaded them on social media.
A Kerala government employee who witnessed the lynching has now turned hostile in court, claiming that he could barely see. In the footage, the forest department watcher was standing next to Madhu when the mob caught him. Though the forest watcher was suspended, multiple witnesses have turned hostile.
In Madhu’s case, the whole system is allegedly working to deny the ST victim justice and save the killers. The murderers have received full administrative support after receiving bail. Their bail was canceled after the accused killers intimidated and coerced witnesses. Even Madhu’s family was directly threatened, but Kerala police acted only after the public protested.
Early Wednesday morning, Shihab returned from duty at Kottayam Medical College Hospital. Shihab rode a scooter and stays near Mundakkayam, 50 km from Kottayam. He discovered a few baskets full of ripe mangoes in front of a closed shop near Kajirapally, 10 km from home, and stopped his scooter.
Shihab was seen nervously surveying the area. There was no one around since it was before dawn. He then donned a raincoat and a helmet. The policemen then dipped into the cartons, selected ripe mangoes, bundled them into his scooter, and escaped.
Unfortunately for Shihab, he was being watched but was unaware of a CCTV system nearby. The following morning, the fruit shop owner found stock missing and checked the footage. He found someone stopping near his shop and stealing mangoes. He intimated the police.
Police allegedly tried to hide the incident, but the footage went viral on social media. Based on the registration number of the scooter, citizens discovered the vehicle’s owner. Then, to the surprise of many, it turned out that the accused was a police officer. Shihab is now wanted by the Kanjirappally police, who have filed a case against him and begun a manhunt for him.
A policeman robbing mangoes caused great embarrassment to the entire police force, and Shihab was suspended. The Idukki District Police Chief issued the suspension order. The suspension order says that Shihab’s actions have disreputed the entire police force. After the CCTV footage and news of the incident came out, there was a lot of criticism and ridicule against the Kerala police. Recent developments like the NIA report suggesting hundreds of PFI terrorists embedded in Kerala police have not helped matters.
Shihab is accused in several criminal cases, including theft. Earlier, a case of sexual assault was registered against him at Mundakkayam police station. He was under suspension but returned to the service recently.