On December 15, 2023, commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the brutal police killing of 11-year-old Muslim girl Sirajunnisa, the road near the location of her cold-blooded murder in Kerala’s Palakkad district was named “Sirajunnisa Road.”
She was killed by a Kerala police officer during the BJP leader Murali Manohar Joshi’s Ram Mandir campaign in Kerala in 1991.
In a Facebook post sharing images of the road name unveiling, Sulaiman Palakkad, a member of Palakkad Municipality and leader of the Welfare Party of Kerala, wrote: “Remembering is a powerful act of resistance.”
For over three decades, a girl was fatally shot on the orders of a senior police officer, Raman Srivastava. Instead of holding the police accountable, the Kerala’s Congress-led and CPI(M)-led governments not only failed to penalise the officer but also promoted Srivastava to the position of Kerala State Police Chief and Chief Advisor of the Kerala Home Ministry.
In December 1991, when then-BJP Chief Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra reached Kerala, the communal tension propagated by the Sangh Parivar affected every place they visited, including Palakkad. In Mepparambu, an Upyatra was attacked, leading to a tense situation for the next few days, and the police had to resort to lathi-charge and firing. Puduppalli Street in Palakkad town was divided, with one side occupied by the Agraharas of Brahmins and the other by Muslims. The street remained calm until a police squad led by Shornur ASP Sandhya passed through. No violence had been reported in the area until that point.
On December 15, 1991, Sirajunnisa and her sister were playing in their courtyard, observed by their neighbor, Muhammad. They were the only people present. The police reported this tranquil scenario to the control room overseen by Raman Srivastava, the then DIG. Despite ASP Sandhya informing him that the situation was under control and no police intervention was needed, Raman Srivastava allegedly ordered firing at the ‘Muslim bastards,’ stating the intention to ‘let them die like dogs.’
When Sandhya passed the Walkie-talkie to the DSP, as instructed by Srivastava, the latter allegedly said to the DSP: “I want dead bodies of some Muslim bastards” and directed him to shoot the girls immediately. The command was promptly followed, and two constables executed the order by firing at Sirajunnisa. The bullet struck just under Sirajunnisa’s nose and exited through the back of her head. She succumbed to her injury on the spot.
In 1999, Raman Srivastava was promoted to the position of IG and later to DGP by the then Kerala CM and Congress leader, Oommen Chandy. Subsequently, Srivastava served as a police adviser (chief secretary rank) to CPIM politician and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan during his first tenure.