Kerala Lynching: It's nothing but racial killing, says activist

Over 100 such deaths of adivasis have been reported in Attapadi in the last few years.

Thiruvananthapuram: Adivasi and dalit activists have condemned the mob attack on an adivasi youth of Attapadi resulting in his death on Thursday. Some have termed it as a racist attack. Adivasi Gothra Sabha leader and Bhoo Adhikara Samrakshana Samithi convener M. Geethanandan told Deccan Chronicle that Madhu had mental disorders. He was not a thief as alleged, but had the habit of wandering around collecting things abandoned by the people, he said. “The attackers are called local people like in the case of those who attacked adivasis in Muthanga. In fact they were settlers who came from low land and adivasis are the real inhabitants of the area,” he said.

Over 100 such deaths of adivasis have been reported in Attapadi in the last few years. None of these cases have been proved as the police and the administration have failed to act on such incidents. The same would happen here also. However, this case has evoked strong protest, he said. Mr Narayanan M. Sankaran, an adivasi youth who took PhD from the English and Foreign Languages University and is now a guest lecturer at a college in Wayanad, said that one reason for branding Madhu as a thief was the presence of a mobile charger in his possession. “They see the presence of an adivasi in public space as an intrusion. Hence, the murder should be treated as racial killing,” said Mr Sankaran.

Mr Santhosh Kumar, dalit activist and campaign coordinator of ‘Chalo Thiruvananthapuram’ cited the opinion of some that Madhu had attempted theft because of poverty. “They have not looked into the reasons for the starvation deaths in Attappadi region. They were getting ration supply, but rice is not among their staple diet. The starvation death is more due to the destruction of the agricultural system of adivasis and their staple food. People are deliberately keeping out the caste factor behind the attack,” said Mr Kumar.

“All those who have been victims of mob violence recently are those who lived in the margins, and wore shabby clothes. Vinayakan, who was killed in custody, was a dalit and black. A person was thrashed by the mob at Tirur recently alleging that he was a kidnapper of children. He was a migrant labourer. All these attacks were due to racism,” Mr Kumar said. Such attacks had happened in the past also. However, the present visibility is because of the emergence of new dalit movements after the suicide of Rohit Vemula. These movements have brought such attacks into the limelight whether at Vadayambadi, Govindapuram or Perambra, said Mr Kumar.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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