A Hindu man named Chandran, alias Tulasi aged just 50, was lynched to death near a temple in Thiruvananthapuram. It is now alleged that there is a conspiracy to paint him as a petty thief hatched by those who killed him, local police, media and the doctors who conducted the autopsy. Police claim that there is no evidence of mob lynching.
Vengode Manalakam Chandran of Gokulam house underwent operations at the medical college before succumbing to his injuries on Saturday. His relative Sasikala alleged that Chandran was a victim of mob lynching, following which the police were forced to register a case of unnatural death. Doctors admitted that he had severe injuries to his intestines.
Chandran had a history of intestinal problems and had had an operation for the same ten years ago. Even in the FIR registered now, police failed to name the accused.
Chandran was allegedly severely thrashed by a mob near the Chirayinkeezhu area of Thiruvananthapuram on 28 May. He passed away at the Thiruvananthapuram medical college hospital on 12 June. Initially, the police allegedly soft-pedalled the incident, and the doctors said there were no external injuries.
The lynching happened near the Perunguzhi Siva Parvati temple around midnight on 28 May. Some people alleged that Chandran was a thief, tied him with ropes to a lamp post and allegedly thrashed him severely. The accused themselves uploaded the video but did not record the ones where they thrashed him. They shared videos where Chandran is seen begging for mercy and on the verge of collapsing, while someone can be heard threatening him.
Viral videos on social media show the victim begging for water after the thrashing. The perpetrators deny him the same until he ‘confesses’. Images later emerged that show a few household lamps that he allegedly stole, but there are allegations that those were planted after the lynching.
Chandran’s assailants then contacted the Attingal police around 2 am on 29 May. Videos show police ‘question’ the victim even as he lay on the ground with his hands still tied up. They showed apathy and Chandran was treated like an animal. Police officers now claim Chandran did not inform them about any physical assault though he mentioned stomach pain.
The police informed Chandran’s relatives, following which Sasikala and another family member went to the police station and released the victim on bail. Interestingly, police officials say that he was released on station bail as the house owner (from where Chandran allegedly stole) refused to file a complaint.
On 31 May, Chandran complained of stomach ache and was taken to the primary health center near Vengode. By 9 June, his health deteriorated and he was admitted to the medical college. Doctors detected a bulge in his intestines, and he was operated upon. The victim never recovered, and he died.
Station House Officer Prathapa Chandran said that following Sasikala’s complaint, an inquest was held in the presence of the Revenue Divisional Officer, and they spotted ‘no external injuries’ on the body. He said the doctor who conducted the autopsy said that he found no evidence to suggest Chandran had died due to injuries resulting from the assault.
“There were no contusions in the body. If Chandran had sustained any internal injury, as alleged by the family, he would have died of internal bleeding soon after the incident. Also, the family did not raise such an allegation till his death,” the SHO added.
One cannot blame the Kerala police entirely. They are busy guarding someone accused of smuggling gold and currencies from an imaginary mob fury – the state’s CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Thousands of police personnel were blocking roads, dragging protestors through the streets, and forcing citizens to remove black masks and clothes, all because of the paranoia against ‘black flag protests’. Even the elderly were frisked for carrying black umbrellas!
The fact that this lynching has made zero ripples on the national stage is another reminder of our skewed public discourse. Such lynchings are, sadly, not uncommon in our country due to a variety of factors – chief being the lack of trust in the justice system (both police and judiciary), and the sense of immunity certain communities enjoy due to their political backers. But it is only when a thief Tabrez Ansari was lynched in then BJP-ruled Jharkhand, that the issue was picked up by national media and the NGO-activist lobby, and dominated headlines for days.
It is for the same reason that the arrests of ordinary citizens like Ketaki Chitale, Nikhil Bhamare for mundane social media posts in ‘secular’ Maharashtra have elicited little response from the intellectual class that proclaims itself as the defender of free speech and civil rights.
In today’s India, nothing is as our elites and media portray it to be.