Outspoken dalit widow murdered

PK Bhavani's husband had died 17 years ago. She belonged to the Pulaya community of the Scheduled castes of Kerala. She was a resident of Chettikulam in Kodassery village of Mukundapuram Thaluk, Thrissur District, Kerala State. She was assaulted by four men of the same village on 19 January 2000 and she succumbed to her injuries the following day.

Bhavani had lodged 76 complaints against atrocious activities of her assailants at the Vellikulangara Police Station. On several occasions they had threatened her that if she had pressed her complaints, she would be dealt with dire consequences. Her assailants are henchmen of certain local political leaders. Thanks to their interference and manipulation, none of her complaints were pursued by the police. Hence on several occasions she had approached the State Women's Commission, District Women's Cell, the District Collector and the District Superintendent of Police for redressal of her complaints. But all her efforts were futile.

On 3 January 2000, the people in the locality in a joint petition had also complained to the Dt. Collector regarding the criminal activities of the assailants of Bhavani.

On 19 January 2000 when Bhavani was returning in a bus from Chalakudy to her residence, these criminals stopped the bus at Chettikulam and attacked her brutally. Subsequently she was dragged away into a cashew plantation where she was sexually tortured. They left her thinking that she had died. But she - crawled to a nearby house which belongs to Mr. Davis. This man contacted the police and the police took her to the hospital. In between, Bhavani had narrated full account of the episode to the lady of the house. Bhavani was admitted at Government Hospital Chalakudy at about 9 p.m. on 19 January 2000. But the hospital authorities did not administer even first-aid to the poor lady. On the other hand they directed the police to take her to Medical College at Thrissur. However, the police disappeared from the hospital saying that it was not their duty to take the injured victim to Medical College hospital which is 30 km away from Chalakudy. On the way Bhavani narrated the full story to her children. As they reached Ollur, 5 km from the Medical College hospital, she died in the car. The doctors of the Medical College hospital said that Bhavani would not have died had she been attended by doctors earlier.

Bhavani was a widow and a dalit. She would have been alive today if the statutory bodies that she approached had acted dutifully. Therefore the State Government is responsible for the tragic death of Bhavani and must be help liable for compensation for the great loss suffered by her children.

Now it is understood that the police had obtained blank signed papers from Bhavani at the hospital and that the police may use those papers to defeat Bhavani's case. The police have not registered the First Information Report properly. We strongly believe that they have omitted material facts and concealed the truth. We genuinely doubt that the investigation is neither corresponding to law nor helpful to render justice.

Outraged local groups submit before the Human Rights Commission that an independent and impeccable inquiry maybe ordered into the litany of events that ultimately resulted in the brutal killing of Bhavani, a Dalit widow and that all those who failed to act upon her repeated complaints and who did not save her life because of medical negligence may be brought to justice and that adequate compensation be awarded to the bereaved children of Bhavani. - From: Human Rights SOLIDARITY, Volume 10, No. 4; April 2000


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