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Prime Minister of India: End Police Brutality and Ensure Justice for Mahija and Her Family

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Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modiji,

On April 5, the Kerala police unleashed brutal violence on KP Mahija, the grieving mother of Jishnu Prannoy. Jishnu, an engineering student, was found hanging in January in his hostel room in the Nehru College of Engineering and Research Centre (NCERC), Pambady, Thrissur, where he was studying. Mahija, her husband Ashokan and her brother and other family members were to visit the DGP office seeking justice for Jishnu. However, instead of giving permission to her and family to visit DGP and give a fair hearing, the state police stopped the family in front of the DGP office. The police manhandled and dragged her when she protested outside the state police headquarters in demand of justice for her son.

All prominent news channels in the state and national media broadcasted visuals of the mother being forcefully dragged on the street. Mahija was heard saying ‘I am mother’, but her loud cries went on deaf ears of the police officers. Visuals of an Inspector General of Police who yelled at the people who protested against the police excess were also telecasted. Upon arrest, police took Mahija and others and admitted them in hospital. Against the sheer police brutality the mother has been fasting in the hospital. Jishnu’s father Ashokan and his sister Sobha along with a few others also took to fasting in protest. A day later, Jishnu’s sister, Avishna, a Class X student has begun an indefinite hunger strike at her home in Kozhikode. She began her fast after watching her mother being beaten up brutally by the police. She said that she would be on fast until her mother, who is seeking justice for Jishnu returns home. Avishna had first decided to join her mother and relatives in Thiruvananthapuram in their protest, but changed her decision as her elderly grandmother would then be left alone at home.

Although Mahija stated in unequivocal terms that her protest was against the police, and not the State, the state government is too adamant in not settling the issue amicably and to give a fair hearing to Jishnu’s family. As days passed by, the health condition of Avishna is fast deteriorating as she has not taken any food for the last four days.         

The people observed a state-wide hartal on Thursday to protest the police action against a mother seeking justice for her son, who died in mysterious circumstances. However, the government remains unmoved and continues with its adamant behaviour. Some of the state ministers like MM Mani and others are making a fun of Mahija and her family through their statements. Moreover, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan justified the police action against Mahija. He said “Police did their duty. Normally, no agitation is allowed in front of the headquarters. The DGP was ready to meet Prannoy’s mother. However, outsiders tried to create the trouble.’’ Adding salt to the wounds, the State government’s Information and Public Relations Department came out with an advertisement in almost all vernacular and mainstream newspapers in Kerala, justifying its stance in the Jishnu Case. The ad tilted ‘Jishnu case: Rumours and Reality’ too justifies police action Mahija. The ad further shows gross insensitivity of a democratically elected headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Police brutality is on the run the state capital. The attack on Mahija is one of the worst cases of police brutality and hubris on an aggrieved family who lost their son. The official response of the State government so far has been atrocious and not in consonance with basic human rights principles and democratic governance.

Engineering student Jishnu Prannoy, from Vadakara in Kerala, was found hanging in the hostel room of NCERC, Pambady, Thrissur. Initially, it was considered to be a case of suicide. However with huge public outrage, especially by the students in several colleges and people from various quarters, police probed other angles and found that the college authorities allegedly tortured Prannoy after charging him with malpractices in exam. The charge was later found to be baseless thereby prompting the police to book college chairman P Krishnadas, vice principal Shakthivel, assistant professor Praveen, examiner Vipin and PRO Sajith Vishwanathan for abetting Jishnu’s suicide. Although Krishnadas was arrested, he was released on bail a day before Mahija decided to begin her strike. It was only natural for the family to allege that the arrest was a drama to protect Krishnadas.

As a concerned and law abiding citizen, I am deeply pained by the police brutality unleashed on Mahija, Jishnu’s mother. The signatories of this petition demand that your government must ensure the following:

1)     Ensure immediate END TO POLICE BRUTALITY in the State of Kerala

2)     Ensure that all the persons involved in Jishnu’s death are arrested

3)      Ensure immediate justice to Jishnu’s mother Mahija and her family.

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