Police Attack Youth at Thrissur: No, We Won’t Be Swept Away

I mean evil is not radical, going to the roots …that it has no roots, and that for this very reason it is so terribly difficult to think about it, because thinking, by definition, wants to reach the roots. Evil is a surface phenomenon, and instead of being radical, it is merely extreme. We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things, by stopping ourselves and beginning to think, that is by reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life. In other words, the more superficial someone is, the more likely will he be to yield to evil …

Hannah Arendt
Riding, no doubt, the waves of the triumph of pulping Wendy Doniger’s book, is the Kerala Sangh Parivar’s renewed determination to engage in physical violence against those who criticize Hindutva and advance other ways of conceiving the Indian nation. When this combines with an ageing society’s irrational insecurities directed at young people, and the overwhelming social tendency to view young people as essentially raw material to be processed in disciplinary institutions and sold as labour power in the global labour market, terrible consequences follow.Youngsters who may not appear to be thus processed — those who wear long hair and sleeveless clothes, whose looks may not affirm cultural gender stereotypes, who may be involved in oppositional politics, who dare to hang out at night, and adopt Bob Marley as an icon — seem to be under threat from the state which swears by its obligations to protect women (the way it understands ‘protection’ is actually more than half the problem) and from an increasingly intolerant, un-civil society. Indeed, young people in Kerala constitute perhaps the largest section in this society whose rights are violated on a daily basis, and the violations of which are  utterly banal.Therefore it becomes important to counter not just Hindutva intolerance but also the kind of insecurities and conservatisms that it feeds on, to expose its politics. Age is increasingly becoming an axis of political and economic inequality in Kerala, the complex consequences we need to carefully evaluate. It is even more important however to distinguish between the violence of evil and radical anger as Hannah Arendt once remarked.

Below is the rough translation of the press statement released by activists of the radical film collective VIBGYOR against the atrocious police attack against young activists of the VIBGYOR collective  at Thrissur on 22 February 2014, which has only made us more determined to resist evil. This was sent to Kafila by K E K Satheesh, cultural activist. He reports that the attacked have suffered severe injuries — broken bones, dimmed eye sight, twisted ankles. The charge likely to be raised against the students is that they raised their voice against the police. I want to emphasize this: the anger of the students is that of citizens whose rights were being violated and that passion is different from the violence let loose on them by the police, which is nothing less that the evil Arendt talks of.  No, we will not be swept away.

On the night of Saturday, 22 February 2014, five students of cinema, young men, and a female cinematographer were waiting for an autorickshaw in front of the Yatri Nivas at Thrissur after a music programme at the Sangeeta Nataka Akademi. Policemen on motorbikes tried to accost them suggesting that they were indulging in immoral acts. Soon, on the reports of these policemen, another group of policemen led by the Sub-Inspector of the East Police Station reached the spot, beat up the young men and woman, and tried to force them into  the police jeep. The young woman called up a lawyer, Adv. Asha, for help, and she reached the spot with her son and minor daughter. They too were beaten up and Asha’s son was also dragged into the jeep.

Inside the jeep on the way to the police station, the policemen thrashed the young men and hustled the woman. Once they reached the police station, they continued the attack under the Sub-Inspector’s leadership, further bashing up the men and attacking the woman sexually. They then tried to evict by force Adv. Asha and her daughter, who followed them to the police station and entered the office. Adv Asha, who resisted, was dragged on the floor and kicked hard; she suffered injuries on her right foot and left knee. Her minor daughter was hit many times and slapped on the face repeatedly. Adv. Asha however refused to leave unless those who were taken unlawfully to the police station were released lawfully. Finally, the cinematographer was allowed to leave with her. She had to however sign a receipt that mentioned that she was being released after arrest. Another young woman who rushed there hearing the commotion, was also beaten up. All three are under treatment at the Aswini Hospital.

Young men and women and human rights activists have faced such unlawful attacks from this Sub-Inspector within the limits of the Thrissur East Police Station even before the present incident. He has been a regular at taking  people, friends who belong to different genders,into unlawful custody from public places, and harassing them mentally in the name of morality.He had also sided with the Sangh Parivar’s attempt to stop the screening of a film on the Kashmir issue at the [recently concluded] VIBGYOR film festival. He desisted from obstructing the screening only after film and human rights activists met the Assistant Commissioner of Police with the film’s censor certificate.

This very officer who was, according to the law, obliged to offer protection to the film festival, withdrew from his responsibility and made it possible for communal forces, the BJP-RSS elements, to unleash violence there. In fact, he made sure that none of the perpetrators were charged or taken into custody.He has taken no action at all against these hoodlums till date. In fact he tried to arrest feminist theatre activists who presented Eve Ensler’s well-known Vagina Monologues, accusing them of obscenity. This officer has also let loose oppressive witch-hunts, like against people wearing t-shirts or even rings with the music icon Bob Marley’s image, charging them of being involved in drugs. We declare that this officer is literally an insult to Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala.

We appeal to the Chief Minister, the Home Minister, the Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Commission, the Inspector-General of Police, the City Police Commissioner, the Kerala State Commission for Child Rights, the Leader of the Opposition, and the KPAC President to initiate effective measures soonest against the unlawful acts of the Sub-Inspector at the .

Friends of VIBGYOR, Thrissur    (K E K Satheesh)
Civil Society Against Injustice (K P Sasi)

17 thoughts on “Police Attack Youth at Thrissur: No, We Won’t Be Swept Away”

  1. the incident narrated here happened in reality but not everything mentioned here is true some of it is hyped.. this is not the right way to narrate the a incident by a responsible kafila author.

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    1. lalu, typical malayalee disciplinarians’ response! I am sure, behind these cryptic statements lies a whole ocean of irritation against ‘anarchic’ youngsters provoking the police! When the police violates your rights, treats you like criminal scum just because you don’t dress conventionally, are out at night, and hang out with girls and boys and people of other genders perhaps, respond meekly — that’s the kind of advice that most ageing Malayalees, even ageing Malayalee activists, especially men, would give. I am sorry I am pretty irresponsible by those standards, and please do set standards of ‘responsibility’ for kafila.

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      1. jdevika, more than 20000 people are following kafila, thats a big number and if we wanna read such hyped one sided stories, there are immense number of newspapers which write pretty better..we read kafila for a reason, many other writers like nivedita, sethi, apoorva and have set standards of responsibility thats why more than 20000 people follow this.
        i respect your freedom of speech and expression but that should not be used to curb our freedom to know the truth.

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        1. If you have better facts, mr Lalu, why don’t you just put in those right here so that those who prepared the press statement can respond? The people who prepared it are respected, responsible activists who however are not discipline-obsessed prudes. Thanks for your approval of Nivi and others, but all of us are pretty used to being called irresponsible all the time!

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      2. An academician sent me a website which reported the event described here, Since the police brutality seemed unacceptable, I checked several News Papers from Kerala and Hindu for details, but no such report could be found.
        Currently,Kerala has a Congress government and CPM is in opposition. Police normally favors only politically powerful. Therefore it is surprising that they favored Sangh Parivar in this case, which has no firm base in Kerala, but nothing is impossible. Then why not take support from Congress or CPM or both to discipline the police as well as Sangh Parivar? Alternatively, file a law suit in court. You have every right to conceive a concept of India which is different from that of Congress, CPM or Sangh Parivar, if it is done within the framework of Indian Laws which is applicable in Kerala.

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    2. i dont want to set any standards for kafila.. and i totally agree with u that there was an issue of moral policing… and also there was provocation from the side of the youth, when the two police persons approached them … and also a part of your story( i am sorry for the word story but i have to use it)
      “They too were beaten up and Asha’s son was also dragged into the jeep.Inside the jeep on the way to the police station, the policemen thrashed the young men and hustled the woman. Once they reached the police station, they continued the attack under the Sub-Inspector’s leadership, further bashing up the men and attacking the woman sexually. They then tried to evict by force Adv. Asha and her daughter, who followed them to the police station and entered the office. Adv Asha, who resisted, was dragged on the floor and kicked hard; she suffered injuries on her right foot and left knee. Her minor daughter was hit many times and slapped on the face repeatedly”… this is totally hyped.

      and i am just 26 years of age(i dont know whether u consider me as a youth) and one of my friends name is also recorded by the police in this case.

      i believe in true reporting and if u r using your imaginative skills in reporting incidents, i humbly request you not to use kafila, i read kafila to know the truth, so no bhavanas here plz plz plz…

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      1. Oh, really? You are a friend of one the victims? And you say this? In any case what are you hinting at? That Asha wasn’t attacked? now your bhavana is at work, and for some end i do not know of!

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        1. We are just trying to dismiss Lalu by saying he is on the other side of the fence. Till I heard from some people, I was also thinking of the same. None of the activists are able to tell this since if the fabricated part of the story is found to be true, it will discredit all the people who have endorsed it (and those who stand against moral polcing, cultural fascism etc. does not want that to happen. It will be a shame if people like Anand Patwardhan were to be discredited. The Sangh Parivar will celebrate such a scenario.)
          Everyone agrees that there has been a case of moral policing. But most of them have disagreement around how the rest of the “story” has been built.

          I too have great respect for people like you who write on issues which need to be condemned and do not like to see the integrity of such people being questioned. If you have sources in Trissur who could get you close to the truth, it would be worthwhile to check with them than dismiss guys like Lalu by doubting their intentions.

          Among activists, there is a notion of implied honesty and that could cause us fall prey to false narrations.

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          1. Yes, passerby, it is important to know what the facts are. If you have the ‘facts’ — i.e. the alternate account you seem to have got, please put it here. None of us are scared of being ‘discredited’ — why should we when our interest is in the truth ! No, have no worry about us at all. In any case the CJI of Thrissur did not seem to have a problem with the ‘story’ as you put it, nor was there a problem when the arrested were granted bail

            Avinash seems especially challenged as far as his interpretative skills are concerns. Send him a report of the issue of a non-bailiable warrant to the notorious officer by none other than the chief judicial magistrate of Thrissur and he will read only the part which says that the youths were arrested for allegedly consuming alcohol in public places. This is a police stooge and no more space is going to be offered to him here.

            Here is a statement by K P Sasi in response to all of you — lalu, avinash, and passerby:

            As a person who has been visiting the victims on an everyday basis in the hospital, I can assure you that the role of mainstream press on this issue has to be questioned since some of them have been relying only on the police version of lies.You can find parallel stories of all fabricated cases in India. The police did not take action on those Sangh Parivar hoodlooms who destroyed the office of VIBGYOR International Film Festival.It happened right in front of the nose of Sub Inspector Lal Kumar. But they chose to bash up people connected with VIBGYOR. The woman cinematographer Neethu is still in the hospital and the woman advocate Asha is still in the hospital. Lawyers under the Bar Association have staged a protest demanding action against Lal Kumar. Around 200 people had participated. There is a protest today by the Action Council of various organisations raising issues like police violcence on women,protection of cultural spaces and to pressurise the authorities to suspend the dictator Lal Kumar. Incidentally, it is this very same Lal Kumar who is responsible for unleashing violence on the Kathikkudam struggle against chemical pollution in Chalakkudy. Activists, women and children were beaten up at that time. He has also been looking for Bob Marley in Thrissur, because he thinks Bob Marley is the brand ambassodor of dope. The funnier side of the story is that the police station in which Advocate Asha, her minor daughter, son and others were beaten up is called Jana Maitri Police station. Even if Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi have been publishing only police versions in spite of repeated press releases from the victims, I am extremely glad that Kafila has come forward. Thank you.
            K.P. Sasi

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  2. Quoting Hannah Arendt is a little too sophisticated for ageing and possibly right-wing Malayalees – or Goans or Haryanvis for that matter – It’s too bloody subtle for them!

    Just recently Teesta Setalvad was given a very, very rough time at the IIT Madras, by upwardly mobile young Indians who study there who see the BJP/RSS combine as the machine to ensure their fancy new cars, easy bank loans, plasma TVs, green cards and whatever. While this lumpen elite barracked any criticism of Fuhrer Modi, the only thing they didn’t have on their side was the police. The way things are going, that too will come…

    Younger people who attended Teesta’s meeting and saw this with their own eyes, haven’t retreated into their cocoons. Even as I write this, they have met at Marina Beach at 7 pm this evening to chalk out their strategies and oppose a narrow vision of life that will surely chain them.

    What the ageing Malayalees, Goan and Haryanavis seems to have forgotten is that the radical 60s have come back to haunt them, and that those those younger are going to take them on with their long hair, Bob Marley, John Abraham (the late filmmaker from Kerala, not his Bollywood namesake with muscles in his mouth), and the ‘Vagina Monologues’….

    They need to book rooms in the old age homes sooner rather than later.

    If they are savvy enough to use the internet to get information that will open their horizons, they may check the following link, much less unsubtle than Hannah Arendt, that they can read as they prepare for their death, the sooner the better:

    Click to access listen_little_man.pdf

    In case they can’t, here’s a small sample:

    “I’m afraid of you, little man, very much afraid, because the future of mankind depends on you. I’m afraid of you because your main aim in life is to escape–from yourself. You’re sick, little man, very sick. It’s not your fault; but it’s your responsibility to get well. You’d have shaken off your oppressors long ago if you hadn’t countenanced oppression and often given it your direct support. No police force in the world would have had the power to crush you if you had an ounce of self-respect in your daily life, if you were aware, really aware, that without you life could not go on for one hour”.

    And tell me please, in an age when many of us are being referred to as ‘Kafilaites’ – a term I am more than happy with – why hasn’t the press release to Kafila mentioned the name of this fascist police inspector?

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  3. @ jdevika, what is written here seems to be a biased view of the events that took place. TOI report says Police had provided protection for the event (RSS workers stop screening of ‘Ocean of Tears’ at film festival http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RSS-workers-stop-screening-of-Ocean-of-Tears-at-film-festival/articleshow/30453942.cms) and as for the attack on “young activists of the VIBGYOR collective at Thrissur” the article on Countercurrents which you have also signed is silent on the reasons for the same. The Advocate’s association is protesting only against the attack on R.K.Asha http://www.countercurrents.org/cc260214.htm So the truth is some where in between.

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    1. Well, if you think TOI is unbiased while the protestors (whose statement this is), I have little to respond! Actually, you are almost accusing them of lying. If you have better facts, come up with those, please , and the activists can then respond?

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  4. jdevika… please let us know from where u got ur facts? i like to stand at the side of the facts.. the true facts..

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    1. Lalu, for goodness sake — did you really read the post? It is a statement signed by two very respected people, one a very well-known film maker and activist! I can see you have no desire whatsoever to stand with the facts!

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    2. A non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued against the notorious sub-inspector of the east police station, lalkumar, by the chief judicial magistrate.

      http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/warrant-issued-against-si/article5738877.ece

      http://www.malayalamtv.in/play.php?id=_zw3uiz9YXA

      Also, for more details on the incident:

      http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16609545-ahrc-deplore-local-police-torture-a-lawyer-in-thrissur-police-station

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