Why does an apparently sane, normal person, a loving husband, an affectionate father suddenly start behaving like a demon? When does the transformation takes place? What is the tipping point taking a person beyond the thin red line separating acceptable, civilized behavior from barbaric, inhuman behavior?
These were some of the thoughts which came to my mind while writing my last blog on the Kongad incident. The flames of the failed Naxalite operations of the late sixties did not die out completely. The smoldering embers blazed forth again briefly in the Emergency days in yet another botched operation in the form of an attack on Kayanna Police Station. The 'revolutionaries' succeeded in carrying away a rifle. And that was all. What followed was the infamous 'Kakkayam' camp culminating in the disappearance and presumed death of Rajan, a Calicut Regional Engg College student. The lifting of the emergency, removal of press censorship shortly thereafter and the defeat of Indira Gandhi and her Congress in the elections resulted in an explosive release of pent up emotions. Stories of all sorts of brutal deeds allegedly perpetrated by the police under the emergency powers, some of it true, some not quite true, started circulating. Unlikely victims along with quite a few genuine victims started competing for special treatment as victims of Emergency. Pictures of a few 'Demons' like Pulikkodan Narayanan, Jairam Padikkal and Karunakaran also emerged along with tragic figures like Rajan, Eachhara Warrier etc , with the active support of the propaganda machinery of the Left. Facts got submerged in an avalanche of rumors, idle speculations, and motivated falsehoods that ,one may be excused for asking like Vikramaditya did:
"Whether Truth was that which was said repeatedly,
That which was said loudly;
That which was said with authority;
Or that which was agreed upon by the majority.
There cannot be any dispute about the fact that Rajan was a victim of custodial violence. He did not deserve to die. He should not have been subjected to custodial violence even if he was involved in the attack. In fact there shouldn't be any custodial death at all due to custodial violence. One would have thought that the sensational Rajan case which resulted in the resignation of the all powerful Home Minister Karunakaran and prosecution of the Police officers would have acted as deterrence. In fact, custodial deaths in Kerala went up. The statistics from NHRC:
The conclusion is irresistible. Custodial violence is/was/will be an investigative method of the Kerala Police whether they are trained in Scotland Yard or FBI or in China or Russia. Even if the Kakkayam Camp was under a different officer, say K.P.S.Gill or Julio Ribeiro or M.K.Joseph, instead of Jairam Padikkal the violence which ensued would have gone on. It was not individual violence; it was institutional violence. Karunakaran is only as guilty for Rajan's death as Kodiyeri is for the Palghat custody death where the Police was investigating the murder of the sister of a senior IAS officer reporting to him. The only difference is that the emergency and press censorship prevailing at that time emboldened the Police to keep even the death of Rajan under wraps. Otherwise, it would have been yet another case of suicide in the lock-up.
A few months ago, there was an article in the Mathrubhumi weekly by the wife of Sri.B.Rajeevan a known Naxalite sympathizer. Mrs.Rajeevan recalls in the article a raid by the Police on their house in search of a wanted Naxalite. She says that the last person to leave was Jairam Padikkal who gently explained to her: 'Child you do not understand. The person who came to your house was Venu'. Not quite the demon, is it?
I had known Mr.Padikkal personally. That was almost a decade after the Rajan case. He was fighting his case in a Court in Coimbatore and Vigilance was raiding his house in Trivandrum/Ernakulum and generally making his life miserable. His wife had a small scale unit manufacturing plastic covers for protecting the latex collecting containers from rain. It was a small unit and also a sick unit of our Bank. They had frequent fund shortages for importing the raw material HDPE which was also in short supply. They had a bigger unit banking with some other Bank which was in no better shape. Mr.Padikkal used to visit the branch once in a while as he did not have any pressing responsibilities at that time. Not even once did he try to use his position to gain any undue advantage from the Bank. It was difficult to visualize him as a heartless demon that enjoyed torturing people. He had an unblemished record till the Rajan case unfolded and was sought after by the Left Government too. Perhaps it was as Martin Luther King said "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Mr.Padikkal could be faulted for remaining silent. But it would have needed extra ordinary bravery to speak out.
Strangely Sri.V.N.Rajan, Director General of Police and C.Achhutha Menon, Chief Minister at that time escaped much of the fall out. The DGP was a close relativeof Kongad Narayanan Kutti Nair who was beheaded by the Naxalites and could be expected to have no sympathy towards them. The CM could not have pleaded that he had no control over his Home Minister. The fact is, everyone knew how the Police functioned and was at a loss to suggest any viable, effective investigative method in the prevailing circumstances. So everyone played politics and allowed the system to flourish. The agenda was only 'Get Karunakaran'. So they went after Jairam Padikkal who was perceived as close to him. This was repeated later in the ISRO case when they tried to make Raman Srivastava , who was also close to Karunakaran, a scapegoat. They could not succeed. They needed a Trojan horse in the shape of Muralidharan to get the wily old fox. Still they have not caged him fully.
And all victims are not equal. The lives of the many more millions of peasants exterminated by Chairman Mao and that of the Kossacks and Kulaks starved to death by Stalin do not collectively have the same value as the millions of Jewish lives taken by Hitler. The Jews own the Media and the Communists are not very keen to publicise this particular achievement of theirs. An American Death in Iraq or Afghanistan is a tragedy; countless Iraqi and Afghani deaths are mere statistics. Naturaly Rajan's life is more valuble than Sampath's. Kodiyeri need not resign. Prosecution of the Police officers need not be pursued and no CBI enquiry is needed.