Four years after Madhu was lynched in Kerala's Attappady, kin fear justice may remain elusive

Madhu's family alleges threat to life, attempts to buy out witnesses
1. Madhu's mother Malli and sister Sarasu, 2. Madhu

Palakkad: Four years after the lynching of Madhu, a tribal youth in Kerala's Attappady, justice remains elusive.

Fear has gripped the grieving family, hailing from Chindakki Adivasi hamlet of Attappady in Kerala's Palakkad district, that it would remain so.

The trial in the murder case is on.

Madhu was allegedly beaten to death by a mob at Attappady on February 22, 2018. He was tied up and beaten by a mob, who caught him from a nearby forest, accusing him of serial thefts. The police have submitted a 3,000-page charge sheet before the court.

Madhu's mother Malli and Sarasu, his sister, lost hope after two prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the first three days of the trial itself.

The women, supported by some social activists, now want the special prosecutor, advocate C Rajendran, to be replaced.

Rajendran is the third public prosecutor handling the case after two senior lawyers opted out.

Malli was in Kochi on Monday pleading for this before the director general of prosecution. She has also written to top authorities of the state, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, about the alleged negligence of the special public prosecutor.

"The witness trial in connection with the murder of my son Madhu began in the Mannarkad SC/ST(POA) Special Court on June 8. We witnessed the entire trial of two witnesses, Unnikrishnan and Chandran, on those days. From observing the trial procedures of advocate C Rajendran, the special prosecutor who was appointed as per our request, we felt that he is inexperienced in conducting trials in trial courts. Moreover, the defence lawyers also succeeded in turning Unnikrishnan and Chandran hostile. We have also come to know that the former investigation officer, the police-in-charge at the court, has filed a report to the Palakkad superintendent of police saying the trial has not been satisfactory," Malli wrote in her complaint to the chief minister.

Malli fears the accused would go scot-free if Rajendran continues to be the prosecutor.

Hence she requests the government to replace Rajendran with additional special prosecutor advocate Rajesh M Menon.

The same complaint was first filed before the trial court, which is likely to take a call on the request on Tuesday when the witness trial is scheduled to resume.

It is clear that Malli, an uneducated poor tribal woman, doesn't understand the legal nuances of the case and its procedures.

She is now supported by activist V M Marsen, who is the convener of the Walayar Neethi Samara Samithi, which fights for justice to the two Dalit girls, who were found dead in the border village.

Marsen had accompanied Malli and Sarasu to Kochi to meet the top legal officer. Incidentally, Marsen and the lawyer Rajendran were involved in the legal fight for the Walayar girls.


Marsen told Onmanorama they decided to seek the removal of Rajendran from the case as the performance of the lawyer was not up to the mark.

“There was no attempt by the prosecutor to challenge the claims made by the witnesses while they turned hostile,” the activist alleged.

“In the afternoon, the digital evidence of CCTV footage from the crime spot was played in the court. The visuals proved that the hostile witnesses' claims were wrong. Even then the prosecutor was not ready to point it out to the court,” he said.

Special prosecutor Rajendran refused to react to the allegations. He told Onmanorama he was waiting for the trial court's decision on the complaint against him.

However, a source associated with the prosecution claimed they are optimistic evidence in the case was so strong that all the 16 accused would be punished despite the witnesses turning hostile.

Chandran who turned hostile is a close relative of Madhu, the source said, alleging attempts by the accused to influence more witnesses.

A legal observer said on condition of anonymity the backtracking by witnesses from their previous statements could weaken the case as it would be difficult to establish the murder charge if some key witnesses turn hostile.

There are 122 witnesses in the case. The trial began this February after Rajendran volunteered to take up the case. Earlier, Madhu’s family had raised serious concerns over the delay in the conduct of the trial.

Read Onmanorama's exclusive series of ground reports published immediately after the lynching of Madhu:

Part I: 500 more Madhus waiting to happen in Attappadi?

Part II: Madhu the myth: Caveman to Maoist!

Part III: Was Madhu hunted down and killed?

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