Tuesday, August 14, 2012

രണ്ടു പെണ്‍കുട്ടികളും കേരള പോലീസും ( Two Female Children and Kerala Police)

കടപ്പാട് : സമകാലിക മലയാളം വാരിക (Courtesy : Samakalika Malayalam Vaarika )

Meena Kandasamy's  letter to the Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy asking him to direct the Kerala police force to stop harassment of two female children because their parents are suspected of being Maoists

(some excerpts in English)

Last year, I had read the Open Magazine story about the manner in which two young girls 15-year-old Amy and 8-year-old Savera were being harassed by the Kerala Police for the sole reason that the state considers their parents as “wanted” Maoist sympathisers. I also read about the difficulties the children were put through at the behest of the police force that visited their home at untimely hours, raided the premises, and threatened them with all sorts of consequences and slandering. A few months ago, I got the opportunity to meet the girls and also become Facebook friends with them. In these circumstances, when I read about the continuing use of police threats and harassment against these children, I decided to take a chance, and write this appeal to you.

Perhaps you will read my letter with disdain and question the locus standi for my writing this to you. Perhaps you will question if I have roots in Kerala, or what is a rank outsider me doing by talking about the conduct of your police force. Perhaps you will say that I am doing this to create controversy. Perhaps you will say that everything cited in this letter is a conspiracy and a fabrication. Perhaps you will say that this letter is the result of my communist sympathies. Perhaps you will even levy the greatest possible allegation against me, you will dub me a Maoist sympathiser. I have decided to take a chance, and any amount of name-calling is not going to silence me in this regard. Allow me a little time to run you through the sequence of events.

I don’t think the Indian Constitution, or the Indian Penal Code, or any of the legal manuals empower the police force in India to advise children to commit suicide. In fact, from the little I know about the law, I think it is a crime to even attempt suicide. But the police force in Kerala needs to be reminded of this technical detail. But as
one learns from a fact-finding report, on 31 May 2011, Circle Inspector Ravindranath of Valappad Police Station, who has since been posted as a Security Officer at the Kerala High Court, had advised Amy and Savera’s seventy-year-old grandmother to take poison as well as to feed it to the children. The police, on that occasion had forcibly entered the premises of their home and had seized Amy’s cellphone without any warrant. They had also indulged in the cheap manoeuvre of trying to cast aspersions on Amy’s character. The fact-finding team
consisting of advocates from Tamil Nadu also detailed the difficulties that they had to face in order to go ahead with their independent inquiry. They had been detained and questioned at the Trissur East Police Station for 6-7 hours, after having been forcibly picked up from the guest house at which they were staying. This speaks volumes about the levels of surveillance to which the two girl children have been subjected.

Reading the fact-finding report (it can be found online here: http://goo.gl/V0tw0), or even the Open magazine article allowed me to have the naive belief that perhaps the bad publicity surrounding this misbehaviour of the police force would have put an end to their atrocious acts. However, this does not seem to be the case. I had no idea that the Kerala police could be so tenacious in their efforts to portray their cruel and extrajudicial side.

Some aspects of the harassment reveal a pattern. On 31 May last year, they had threatened Amy and Savera that their father would be killed, his head would be crushed with boulders. This year, when Mr. Babu, a police officer from the Crime Branch paid a visit to their home on 24
July, he broke the news that their father had been killed. Such psychological harassment, especially for children who are not having the safety of living with their parents, is too traumatic. Their
grandmother, who takes care of the children is over seventy years old and she is a heart patient. Amy’s letter also chronicles how her friends are being hunted because they arranged a hostel for her in Kozhikode so that she could stay there and attend school. The picture
that emerges here certainly does not resemble the activities of a
democratic state.

I hope that you share my belief that two young children cannot be held responsible for the political beliefs of their parents. I hope you understand that neither the law nor any legal mechanism under the Indian Constitution would permit these psychological operations
carried out by the Kerala police force. With the firm conviction that writing to you would improve the situation, I request you to kindly direct the Kerala police to stop harassing the two girls. I also
request you to use the power vested in your office to take action against those police officers who have invaded the privacy and personal liberty of these children.

I hope that your act of kindness will bring them a little peace in an uncertain world. What has been done cannot be undone,
but if the police force is made to restrain itself, the much-maligned image of the state machinery will at least not suffer further damage.

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