Brutal massacre, unique case in judicial history

via Pioneer News Service | Kozhikode published on December 27, 2008





The
May 2, 2003 Marad massacre, in which eight Hindus were chopped and
hacked to death under the darkness of night, was one of the worst-ever
incidents of cold-blooded criminal act the history of communal hatred
in Kerala and the case regarding that has been one of the
rarest-of-the-rare affairs in the history of the criminal investigation
procedure and judicial process.

The massacre generated equal
measures of hatred in the minds of the victims as well as the
perpetrators, sowed panic among both the Hindu and Muslim communities
of this otherwise peaceful State known for its religious harmony and
hurled the lives of the people of the fishing hamlet of Marad, who had
no bigger ambitions than to catch fish and sell them to live peacefully.

As
many as 150 persons listed as accused in the case of whom cases against
139 were confirmed, five minor boys as accused, 259 witnesses, over 900
documents, about 450 exhibits including swords, machetes and bombs,
275,000 pages of deposition by the accused, 6,000 pages of witness
statements, 1,000 pages of judgement note in the handwriting of the
judge… Everything made the Marad massacre case a unique affair in the
history of Judiciary in the State.

The circumstances under which
Special Judge Babu Mathew P Joseph announced his verdict on Saturday
itself were unique. The verdict, convicting 63 and acquitting 76 of the
accused, was read out amidst tight security provided by hundreds of
police personnel belonging to various wings of the force, including
Kerala Armed Police, Armed Reserve Police, Malabar Special Police, bomb
squad, dog squad, etc.

Prohibitory orders were in place in 13
police station limits in the district when the judge read out his
judgement. The orders imposed by the district collector came into force
at 8.00 am Saturday and would continue till 7.00 pm Monday. The
epicenter of the entire issue, Marad was brought under special security
cover with more police pickets and patrols and even the Electricity
Department was forced into action for providing fault-free power supply
and installation of street lamps everywhere in the hamlet. Kozhikode
and Feroke would have three “dry days” in succession from Saturday.

The
original decision as to announce the judgement in the case on November
29 and it was taken on August 22 last by the special court in
consultation with the counsels of the prosecution and defendants. The
trial had concluded on April 10 last. Seventy of the accused were
granted bail in three schedules as per the special conditions laid out
by the Kerala High Court.

Even the bail for the accused itself
created history with the conditions laid out. The accused on bail were
not allowed to travel outside the police station limit, were not
permitted to contact people other than those who were essential – like
lawyers and close family people. The conditions were so stringent that
several of the accused could complained that they would not be able to
get out of the prison for enjoying bail even as another section said
the Government was doing a huge disservice by not opposing the bail
pleas properly. Two of the accused escaped to overseas during the trial
period and a case was still on against the police for finding how they
had organized their passports.

Five of the accused were minors
during the time of crime and the trial of these persons was yet to
start in the Juvenile Justice Board, Kozhikode. Nazaruddin, one the
five accused minors, had fled to the Gulf during the period and his
whereabouts were yet to be known.

There was a move to expedite
the trial of these accused but the Special Court pointed out that the
evidences and exhibits in the case could not be transferred to the
juvenile court before the procedures at the Special Court were
completed. The High Court also upheld the argument of the Special Court.

There
were demands for a CBI probe into the conspiracy aspect of the massacre
right from the beginning of the case but the UDF regime then and the
LDF Government that succeeded it had not seen this seriously. The LDF
Government had now opted for a CBI probe, as per a decision taken by
the State Cabinet on November 19.

The Cabinet that day approved
a proposal of the Home Department headed by Minister Kodiyeri
Balakrishnan to freshly demand a CBI probe into it. The request to the
Centre was for a CBI probe into the aspects of conspiracy, sources of
funds, involvement of external forces, use of explosives and
mobilisation of weapons in the massacre.

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