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CHRO fact-finding report on police atrocities against Muslims minority in Peringamala Panchayat, Thiruvananthapuram District.

The Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (CHRO) instituted a Fact-Finding Team to look into complaints of massive police atrocities unleashed in Peringamala Panchayat, Nedumangad Taluk, Thiruvananthapuram District, following the twin "Hartals" of December 6 and 10, 2001. The team members who visited the area on December 21, 2001, are :
1) Mukundan C. Menon (Secretary General, CHRO)
2) Dr. Sunil (Research Scholar, Kerala University, Thiruvananthapuram)
3) S. Sanjeev (Rights activist, Thiruvananthapuram)
4) A. S. Ajith Kumar (Dalit Human Rights activist, Thiruvananthapuram)
5) K. S. Srijith Kumar (Freelance Journalist, Thiruvananthapuram).

Leading respondents who provided valuable information for this report are:
1) Vijayan, Sub-Inspector, Palode Police Station
2) Shamsuddin, local leader of Kerala Congress-M (belonging to ruling UDF)
3) P. Kamaruddin, Thiruvananthapuram Rural District Secretary, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) (ruling UDF)
4) S.A. Rasheed, Panchayat Member, Peringamala, and CPI-M leader (opposition LDF)
5) Sainuddin Abdin, Local Committee Member, CPI-M (opposition LDF)
6) Ms. Sabbala Beevi, Housewife
7) Jalaluddin Haji, Vice-President, Thaikkavu Masjid, Peringamala
8) Sathar, President, Joint Jamat Committee President.

December 6-10, 2001, Hartals
The State-wide "hartal" call given by People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Muslim People's Front (MPF) on the 9th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 2001, was totally peaceful in and around Peringamala. Different "Sangh Parivar" outfits gave another "hartal" call on December 10, 2001, to protest against the alleged violence said to have taken place in Pathanamthitta District during December 6 "hartal". 
On December 10 morning around 9.00 am a demonstration comprising of around 100 "hartal" supporters exploded a bomb in front of the Thaikkav Masjid at Peringamala Junction. Apart from the three duty-policemen present there, local people and shop-keepers were witness to this bomb explosion. As per the eye-witness account of the duty-policemen, a case was registered on the same day at Palode Police Station (No. 269/2001). Later, the six arrested "Sangh Parivar" activists were remanded to prison.
Next day (December 11, 2001, Tuesday), one non-local person, Hariprakash, submitted a complaint to Palode Police Station in the name of "Hindu Aikya Vedi". This complaint alleged that five-days ago, in connection with the December 6 "hartal", the pro-"hartal" Muslims exploded a bomb in front of a tutorial college near the NSS High School junction. Based on this complaint, the police registered another case (No. 272/2001). Later, the police arrested one Mr. Mansur.

Police Raids
The police conducted massive raids in Muslim households following the "Hindu Aikyavedi" complaint filed on December 11. Several of these houses (including that of Thaikkavu Masjid Vice-President Jalaluddin Haji, his sister-in-law Jameela Begum, and the "Seena Manzil" of Sabbala Beevi with all-women inmates) were raided by the police around past midnight. Besides, there were day-and-night police enquiries. Because of the police terror, several Muslims, especially youth, were forced to remain in hiding.
The police had evidently adopted a method to brand all those who belong to Muslim community as "terrorists". For example, the police went in search of the sons of CPI-M local leader Sainuddin Abdin, Congress-I leader P. A. Thaha, and CPI-M Panchayat Member S. A. Rasheed by alleging that they were "Muslim terrorists". Out of this, S. A. Rashid's son and DYFI leader Naijan was termed as PDP activist by the police.

1) There was no witness for the alleged bomb explosion on December 6 at NSS High School junction. On the other hand, the "Sangh Parivar" demonstrators who hurled bomb in front of Thaikkavu Masjid was witnessed by duty-policemen and local people.
2) It was only on December 11 that the "Hindu Aikyavedi" filed a police complaint and got it registered, alleging that a bomb was exploded on December 6. At the same time, Sub-Inspector Vijayan had admitted that the case on the December 10 bomb explosion was registered on the same day on account of the version provided by the witness duty-policemen. Yet, no Sangh Parivar activist faced the same police action as was massively targeted only against Muslim households. Why?
3) The past-midnight police raids in Peringamala were conducted in total violation of the directives given by the Chief Minister at the conference of senior police officials held on November 25, 2001, following the complaints of police atrocities started from the arrests of Kozhicode DCC President on November 1, and also the existing orders of Supreme Court on Police raids, arrests and custody. The version of Sub-Inspector Vijayan that the "raids were held to capture those who hide and evade arrests" is not a valid and sound justification. Apparently because of this self-realisation that he gave us an assurance that night raids would not be conducted any more.
4) The fact that there was no woman police among the police party who conducted past midnight raids at 1.00 am at "Seena Manzil", where all inmates were women, constituted a serious violation of law.
5) Sub-Inspector Vijayan had admitted that the raids were conducted following criticism against police for arresting no Muslim even after arresting six Hindus. If true, this is a clear example of the frivolous nature of maintaining law and order situation.
6) The "Hindu Aikyavedi" had filed a complaint on December 11 about the alleged bomb explosion of December 6 only because the police initiated steps on the bomb explosion conducted by Sangh Parivar on December 10. Sub-Inspector Vijayan's version, by quoting the "Hindu Aikyavedi" complainant Hariprakash, that the complaint was filed on instruction from higher level is also pertinent.
7) Although all the shop-owners at Peringamala Junction, where the Thaikkavu Masjid locates, are Muslims, they voluntarily closed their shops as per the "hartal" call given by "Sangh Parivar" on December 10. On the other hand, the pro-hartal Sangh Parivar processionists, who included non-locals, reached the totally peaceful area by raising provocative slogans at 9.00 am and hurled bomb in front of the Masjid. Still, no untoward incidents took place there evidently due to the self-restraint maintained by the Muslims. It is from this angle that the later police atrocities selectively targeting the Muslims on the basis of "Hindu Aikyavedi" complaint alleging December 6 bomb explosion need to be assessed and condemned.
8) Inmates of Muslim houses are worried since there was no information of the Muslim youths who stayed away fearing police atrocities. Police raids conducted on the same houses only multiplied their worries. The Muslim youths whom the police hunt now had no criminal records in the past.

1) The Government must treat the Peringamala incidents as a clear example of the unlimited free hand and powers given to the police on account of the the widespread propaganda on Muslim extremism. The Government, therefore, must give immediate strict orders to the police that they have no unlimited powers and that no police step should be in violation of the existing law.
2) The police approach that Muslims who have not committed any crime should also be arrested along with "Sangh Parivar" activists who did commit crime is a mockery of law. Since this police approach of looking at the face, caste and religion, instead of identifying the actual culprits of the offence, will create social conflicts of far-reaching implications, immediate steps must be undertaken by the Government in this regard.

3) The government must also give firm direction to the police to withdraw all the cases instituted on the basis of the December 11 complaint filed by "Hindu Aikyavedi" since it is a frivolous and false complaint.

4) The KSHRC and NHRC must consider this report seriously and advise/instruct the Kerala Government to take appropriate action.

1) Mukundan C. Menon 2) Dr. Sunil 3) S. Sanjeev 
4) A. S. Ajith Kumar 5) K. S. Srijith Kumar

Postcript :
The CHRO released this Fact Finding Report at a Press Conference at Press Club, Thiruvananthapuram, on December 29, 2001. The CHRO also planned to hold a public meeting at Peringamala same evening to create public awareness against such police atrocities, and it was announced through notices/posters in the area. 

However, the police suddenly cancelled their permission given earlier to hold the public meeting. The Nedumangad Circle Inspector of Police, Mr. Sukumara Pillai, constantly informed the undersigned on phone on December 27 and 28 that the permission was denied due to Special Branch report that such a public meeting by CHRO would "create more trouble". Mr. Pillay also said that a meeting comprising of "Hindus and Muslims" and "political party representatives" had arrived at a consensus and, as such, the CHRO public meeting was "unnecessary at this stage". 

However, my request to give the reasons in writing for denying permission to hold the public meeting was not yet heeded by the Circle Inspector, although he promised over phone to comply with it.

All the local political party leaders belonging to both ruling UDF and opposition LDF, who figure as our major respondents in the report, had agreed to participate in our Press Conference on December 29. However, except Mr. Shamsuddin of Kerala Congress-M (ruling UDF), nobody turned-up. We later came to know that all of them had shifted their stand on account of pressure from the Police and their respective political leadership at State/District levels. 

We also came to know that the so-called peace consensus arrived at was that the police would arrest 14 persons from each of the two communities. It was also learnt that the police would not arrest Muslim youths belonging to the families of local political party leaders. Instead, only those Muslims whose names the local political party leaders submit would be arrested by the police. Evidently, this was acceptable to the "Sangh Parivar" since such a consensus was arrived at to save them by diluting their offence of bomb throwing on December 10. On the other hand, except the few handful local political leaders, all the ordinary people belonging to Muslim minority in Peringamala area stand by the veracity of our report. Notably, the police atrocities ceased to end only after the visit of our fact-finding team. Earlier representations given to the authorities by local political party leaders failed to have any effect on the police till then. Even if peace has been achieved through the belated peace meet at police instance, it hardly minimises the urgency for action against the wanton police atrocities already committed. 

We firmly stand by our report to further demand : 1) There was absolutely no need to arrest any Muslim of Peringamala as per the so-called consensus arrived at by the Police, the UDF-LDF and "Sangh Parivar" local leaders because the "Hindu Aikya Vedi" complaint of December 11, 2001, was totally frivolous and fabricated; 2) The police must give us in writing the reasons for denying permission to hold our public meeting at Peringamala on December 29, 2001; and 3) Only deterrent steps against the erred police officials' biased, partial and one-sided actions can bring lasting peace at Peringamala and which will also prevent occurrence of such situations in other areas as well.

Thiruvananthapuram Mukundan C. Menon
January 2, 2002 Secretary General (CHRO)
3, Rams' Cottage
Ambalathumukku Pettah
Thiruvananthapuram-695 024
Ph.: 0471-476262
E-Mail :

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