After 5 years, Kerala court finds 14 guilty, acquits 2 in Tribal lynching case

After five years, a special court in Mannarkkad, a town in Kerala’s Palakkad district found 14 people guilty in the 2018 Attappadi tribal lynching case. 30-year-old tribal youth, Madhu, was lynched by a mob suspecting that he had stolen rice and curry powder. The scenes of beating up Madhu were captured on mobile phones.

The court on Tuesday acquitted two of the 16 accused. The quantum of punishment for the convicted would be pronounced on Wednesday.

The shocking incident happened on February 22, 2018, in Mukkali, part of the Tribal belt of Attappadi. Chargesheet stated that the tribal youth was hit on the face and back, kicked in the chest and his head smashed against a wall by the accused.

Though the mob handed him over to the Agali police in Palakkad, he died on the way to the hospital.

The accused, mostly local traders and drivers, are framed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections on murder, abduction, kidnapping to murder, kidnapping to wrongfully confine a person, assault, causing injury with weapons, unlawful assembly and rioting with weapons as well as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act sections.

During the much-delayed trial, three prosecution lawyers pulled out of the case, and 22 of the 27 prosecution witnesses turned hostile. Kerala’s leftist government at times got under fire for the delay.

Madhu’s family and the prosecution witnesses had faced threats from the accused, which prompted the trial court to cancel the bail of 12 of the 16 alleged accused.

In the chargesheet, police also produced the treatment records of Madhu from the Government Mental Health Centre at Kuthiravattom and Government Tribal Speciality Hospital at Kottathara.