Tribal youth ‘who can’t drive’ slapped with car theft case in Kerala, put behind bars

Tribal youth ‘who can’t drive’ slapped with car theft case in Kerala, put behind bars

Here’s a story that bears similarities with the plight of the marginalised communities portrayed in the recent Tamil movie ‘Jai Bhim’.

Published: 13th November 2021 06:13 AM

Deepu’s mother Leela

KOZHIKODE: Here’s a story that bears similarities with the plight of the marginalised communities portrayed in the recent Tamil movie ‘Jai Bhim’. A tribal youth from Meenangadi in Wayanad district was arrested last Friday by the Sultan Bathery police in a vehicle theft case, which his relatives allege is a fabricated one.

While the police claim that Deepu, 22, of Athikadavu Paniya tribal colony, was caught fleeing with the stolen car, the relatives assert that he doesn’t even know to ride a bicycle, let alone drive a car. Human rights activists and relatives are up in arms against the police, demanding justice for the youth, who is a daily wage worker. His kin and local residents have also lodged a complaint with the district collector. They alleged that the police beat up Deepu and also slapped several other theft charges on him. He is currently lodged in the district jail at Mananthavady.

“The accused was trying to drive away with the stolen car (KL 05 N 9551) and was spotted by locals in town on November 5. He confessed that he drove the car for 2km,” said Sultan Bathery SHO Benny K P. “While recording his statements, he revealed about the other thefts he had committed. On November 2, he said, he broke into a house at Meenangadi and took a mobile phone and a pair of earrings.

On October 30, he stole a motorbike from Meenangadi while in an inebriated condition. Based on his statements, the police conducted a search and recovered the mobile phone and the stolen bike, 5km away from where it was reported missing. He said he threw the earrings in a field and we are yet to find them,” said Benny.

Deepu’s mother Leela said her son was at his wife’s home near Muthanga from November 3 to 5. “On November 5, he came to Meenangadi and left home around 2.30pm saying he was going to Sultan Bathery for some work. Around 10pm, we came to know about his arrest through a neighbour. When we went to the police station to enquire about it, the police beat him in front of us. He was shouting that he was innocent. They didn’t even give him food the whole day,” said Leela.  Human rights activist Ammini K said the police claimed they informed Deepu’s mother about his arrest, which was a lie.

Yet to cross-check if youth knows driving: Police

“The youth doesn’t know to drive. Then how can they say that he drove the car and tried to steal it? The family saw policemen torturing Deepu and we suspect that the other theft cases slapped on him are also fabricated. We will protest until the truth revealed,” she said. Responding to the allegations, Wayanad district police chief Arvind Sukumar said: “The police found Deepu starting the car using the key. We are yet to cross-check whether he knows driving.

But he has used another person’s car without permission. His fingerprints match with those collected from the crime scene in the house from where mobile phone and earrings went missing in Meenangadi.” “Regarding the police beating up the accused, the medical reports reveal he is healthy,” said Arvin Sukumar. Recently, the forest department had suspended a beat forest official for framing a tribal youth who hailed from Kadamkolli colony in Kannankode near Muthanga, in a false sanda lwo od theft case in September.

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