Kerala: Struggle for Arresting the Murderers of Hakeem

30 April 2015
CONCERNED over the delay in arresting the killers of Abdul Hakeem, who was murdered in February 2014 in Payyannur by suspected land mafia henchmen, the action committee formed by local residents has launched a mass movement. The People's Action Committee, demanding the arrest of the culprits in the heinous murder of Abdul Hakeem, a native of Payyanur, Kannur District has been on a path of continuous struggle for nine months, as the authorities have refused to do justice.

On 10 th February, 2014, morning people reported to the police that Hakeem's dead body was found burning in the compound of the Juma Masjid behind the Payyanur railway station. The police came very late, though the police station was only 3 kms away. It was a gruesome murder that shocked the people. There was a widespread feeling that there were no attempts to trace the criminals. Different organizations protested, raising the demand to arrest the culprits. Nothing happened and these protests cooled down. It was in June, four months after the murder, that the People's Action Committee started a struggle demanding the arrest of culprits.

Hakeem was a young man from a poor family, without any patronage of the rich or the powerful. There were attempts from above to scuttle the police enquiry at every stage; to see that no one was arrested. Crime branch enquiries and newspaper reports have subsequently confirmed the worst fears of the people – that a powerful lobby is protecting the criminals and preventing any arrest. In newspaper reports, certain politicians are also alleged to have supported the antisocial mafia behind the murder. The mafia in question is said to have grown powerful in a very short time and have amassed wealth through real estate business, money lending and unlawful activities. People are afraid of this mafia to such an extent that they don't even dare to give evidence against criminals. As elsewhere, the criminal-police-politician nexus is operative in Payyanur too, creating a fear psychosis among the general public.

The People's Action Committee started a massive Satyagraha in front of the police station from 2nd October, 2014, demanding CBI intervention and arrest of the culprits. But it was withdrawn after 42 days, as the Government assured that the CBI would be entrusted with the investigation. The agitation was resumed on 25 February, 2015, as Satyagraha in front of the Gandhi statue in Gandhi park, Payyanur and this has been going on for the past 30 days. The Action Committee has called on the political parties to take astand on the Hakeem murder issue and to initiate agitation compelling the leaders of the ruling parties to take necessary action.

As people's participation in the struggle increased, there were desperate attempts from certain quarters to threaten the leaders of the struggle, including an attempt on the life of E V Sunilkumar, who was on a bike and managed to escape narrowly. He lodged a complaint with the police but they did nothing, as they claimed that he could not identify the criminals. On 17th March, a group of miscreants waylaid his bike and attacked him again, this time with swords, in front of the CPM office. He ran for his life to a nearby house; but the criminals hacked him with swords in front of the small children in that house. The children were so terrified that they have not overcome the shock and are undergoing counselling. Certain CPM workers have warnedthe Action Committee members over the phone that Sunilkumar will not be spared! Sunil has been hospitalized with severe wounds and fractures all over his limbs.

The murder of Hakeem calls for justice; no one has been arrested so far, though the police hand out news frequently in the media that they are about to nab the criminals. In the meanwhile the poor family of the dead is finding it hard to carry on: his wife and son have no means of livelihood anymore. Action Committee chairman T. Purushothaman has appealed to all human rights activists to take up the issue and support the ongoing struggle at Payyanur and initiate action in solidarity to achieve their objectives. He has also, on behalf of the committee, made an open appeal to all to try and prevail on the Kerala government to take stringent action against the murderers of Hakeem and the criminal mafia that has instigated murder.
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