Two Muslim youth from Kerala were subjected to brutal custodial torture, communal slurs
In the latest case of police brutality, Kerala police has refused to act on a complaint filed by the father of an 18-year-old on alleged custodial torture and anti-Muslim slurs used by the Palakkad north police station SI Sudheesh Kumar. The police, instead, have filed a case against the boy for circulating violence-inciting fake news over social media.
The boy in question, Abdu Rahman, was at his Kalladikode home in Palakkad district on August 24 when two police officers arrived at his residence, enquiring about his older brother Bilal. The officers claimed that the 20-year-old was a suspect in an attempt-to-murder case in Palakkad’s Kavilpad village. When the family explained that Bilal was down with high fever, the police abused and threatened his family and then took away both Bilal and Abdu Rahman. “I asked them for the arrest warrant but they pushed me away. They also abused my daughter before detaining both my sons,” their father Abdul Hakeem told Dalit Camera.
Abdu Rahman and Bilal were first taken to Kalladikode station and later to Palakkad north police station where Bilal, Palakkad area secretary of the Campus Front of India (CFI) was questioned about a clash with a group of RSS activists in Kavilpad in Palakkad over a social media post. In the post, Rajesh Rajan, while supporting the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, said that more mosques should be destroyed and replaced with temples. After an SDPI member Shoukath Kavilppad commented on the post, a clash erupted between the two groups on August 9 and a welding workshop of an SDPI activist was destroyed. In retaliation to it, SDPI activists had allegedly attacked an autodriver. Police alleged that Bilal had a role in that case, which SDPI says was merely fisticuffs.
At least 20 police officers were present for the interrogation, all in plain clothes except SI Sudheesh Kumar. However, the questioning, claims Abdu Rahman, quickly took a violent turn. “Two officers stood with boots on Bilal’s thighs while Sudheesh Kumar repeatedly used a lathi on his soles.
The police officers repeated the same torture with Abdu Rahman, also kicking him in the stomach, chest and spine. “Later, we were stripped naked and pepper spray was used on my genitals; our private parts were also inflicted with lathis. I couldn’t withstand the pain,” Abdu Rahman recounted, adding that any mention of pain only further incited the officers who only doubled the torture. Bilal was also subjected to electric shocks during the interrogation in another room.
Abdu Rahman alleged that Sudheesh Kumar used anti-Muslim slurs throughout the torture. “’You should not give birth to Muslims. We don’t need more Muslims’, the officer repeated,” said Abdu Rahman.
Later that evening, the brothers were taken to the district hospital for a medical checkup, on the way threatening them against speaking up about the torture,” Abdu Rahman said. The next day, Bilal was taken for a COVID test and his arrest recorded. He was produced in front of the district magistrate through video conferencing. Later that evening, Abdu Rahman was released.He said Bilal has been sent to prison without any medical treatment for his fever or injuries.
The family said that Abdu Rahman returned home with a swollen face and his legs were badly injured. Upon insistence, the boy revealed to his family the torture they were subjected to. He was taken to the district hospital in Palakkad around 10:30 pm and later moved to a private hospital. The laboratory reports show the presence of blood in Abdu Rahman’s urine due to internal bleeding. Initial diagnosis revealed that Abdu Rahman has received an injury on his spine. The doctors are awaiting the X-ray report. Abdu Rahman said the pain in his hip and private parts has not subsided. He lies bedridden and in trauma.
An attempt by his friends to generate awareness about the incident has further backfired. The Kerala police, in response, has registered a case against Abdu Rahman and his friends for circulating fake news over social media. The police denied the allegations of torture and dismissed it as baseless allegations. “People can accuse anyone through social media. We have taken action under the Kerala Police Act. More charges will be included later,” Rajesh, an officer from the Palakkad north police station told Dalit Camera.
Meanwhile, Abdul Hakeem has submitted a complaint to the DGP of Kerala police, requesting legal action against Sudheesh Kumar and other officers on duty at the Palakkad north police station. “The information given by Abdu Rahman showed that Bilal was subjected to brutal torture and his life is at risk. I request you to provide medical treatment to Bilal on an immediate basis,” read an excerpt. A copy of the letter and Abdu Rahman’s hospital reports are with Dalit Camera.
Talking about the incident that led to the eventual torture of Bilal and Abdu Rahman, Unais Ahmed, Palakkad district Secretary of Campus Front of India, told Dalit Camera that the clash was initiated by RSS activists who had threatened Shoukath to delete his comment from the post. “First, Shoukath and his friend Afsal were attacked on August 9. Later, the RSS activists set on fire the shop of an SDPI activist. This is what led to the fight. As the local police refused to accept the complaint, it was submitted to the DySP. But no action was taken,” he said.
The incident comes to light within weeks after the Jeyaraj and Bennix custodial death case came under spotlight in Tamil Nadu. Only last week, data on prisons shared by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that Dalits, Muslims and tribals continue to be jailed in numbers disproportionate to their share in the population.
On 26th August, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) took out a march to the Palakkad north police station to protest the torture of the two brothers. National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) state President Vilayodi Sivankutty, who inaugurated a protest, said, “An invisible manifesto exists among the government machinery that Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed community should be tortured brutally. In Engandiyoor in Thrissur, a Dalit teenager Vinayakan had committed suicide,in 2017, allegedly after custodial torture. The reformations and modernisation of police are just on paper.”
Reference : https://www.dalitcamera.com/police-used-pepper-spray-on-our-genitals