Do you know what a habeas corpus lawsuit is? Let’s focus on the first case of this kind in Kerala’s history, which was brought by a parent on behalf of his son P. Rajan.
Rajan was a final-year student at Calicut’s Regional Engineering College. All of the citizens’ fundamental rights were suspended in India between 1975 and 1977 due to a widespread state of emergency. As a result, police activism developed. The Naxal movement in Kerala was at its peak at this time. In rural areas, their operations were more concentrated at police stations.
During this time, as per the record on March 1976, Rajan and a companion were both detained by the Kerala police. He and his friend were way back from Calicut university after the youth festival along with their batch mates and teachers. He was detained by the police and subjected to torture during questioning after being arrested on the grounds that he may have participated in Naxal activity at the police station the day before. Due to the local actions, the police established an interrogation camp inside the rural region, through which no one was permitted to enter. All suspects were apprehended, transferred to this camp for questioning, and subjected to horrendous torture. The same camp was visited by Rajan as well. He underwent every police-harming questioning, and as a result of the intense police torture, he passed away. His body was then disposed of by the police and was never recovered.
Later, Rajan’s father, T.V. Eachara Varier, a professor at the arts and sciences college, reported his son missing to the authorities. He learns his son died in custody after witnessing numerous protests and officials. After a protracted legal battle, many of the allegations against the accused in this case were dismissed. He files a habeas corpus claim in the high court of Kerala. And it was Kerala’s first lawsuit in its history.
Rajan’s father engaged in a prolonged conflict with the authorities to reveal the truth about Rajan’s abduction and the crimes the government had done. The administration told the court that it had done all in its power to find the missing student. One of the witnesses K. Rajan who was himself arrested claimed to have seen six men in plain clothes torturing the student at the Kakkayam tourist bungalow. The witness could identify one of these men as a sub-inspector of police Pulikodan Narayanan. The state government has charged a criminal case in this matter and placed them on administrative leave (suspended) to four police personnel. According to the petition and later investigations, Rajan had in fact been arrested and may have passed away while under police custody. Since his corpse was never discovered, the prosecution, in this case, was forced to abandon several counts. The chief of the Kerala Police’s Crime Branch, DIG Jayaram Padikkal, was one of the accused. His conviction was upheld on appeal, but he was still one of the accused.
Karunakaran served as the emergency’s home minister. In 1978, due to the case’s adverse verdict, he resigned as Kerala’s Chief Minister. Varier chronicled his battles in the book Memories of a Father.
In his book, Memories of a Father, (ORACHANTE ORMAKKURIPPUKAL – Malayalam Edition) Eachara Varier, the father who fought for his son, fully describes all the highs and lows in his life. One finds it impossible to imagine living at a time when such forms of torture were commonplace. We are all familiar with the Tamil film Jai Bhim, which debuted in 2021. The movie masterfully portrays the suffering that a victim of a senseless homicide and his family endure. Nobody is certain of Rajan’s guilt in this situation. All that occurred was that he was killed by torture just out of suspicion.
In addition to all of these stories, there were several stories being spoken concerning the police’s retaliation against Rajan. It was claimed that Rajan’s humorous song that he sang in his college when a minister visited as a guest caused the police to take notice of him. In addition, it is said that he was detained because Rajan’s name was heard during the incident by police officials witnessing the attacked police station. As a result, all individuals named Rajan were arrested and tortured.
For us of this generation, it is unimaginable that we formerly resided in a society where the legal system operated like a pack of wolves. They did their part to save the town, it’s true, but the people they tortured, whether innocent or not were also human with a family.