Kerala: Madhu Murder Convicts get 7-year Jail Term, Victim’s Family to Appeal Against Sentence
A special trial court hearing the murder of Madhu, a tribal youth from Attappadi in Palakkad district, imprisoned 14 of the 16 accused in the case dating back to 2018. Among the ones convicted, 13 were awarded seven years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) and one was handed over three months of imprisonment with penalties.
The family members of Madhu and the prosecution have decided to file an appeal against the lower jail term for the accused. The government of Kerala has extended its support to the family for filing the appeal in the higher court.
The Mannarkkad Special Court for SC/ST Atrocities Act cases found the accused guilty under different sections of IPC, including 304 (2), 326 and 367. They were also punished under sections of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Madhu died on February 22, 2018 in Ajamudi forest in Attappadi tribal region, where he lived, due to injuries sustained during the attack by a few local people on suspected theft.
14 FOUND GUILTY, MINISTER EXPRESSES SATISFACTION
The special court, hearing the case since 2018, found 14 of the 16 accused guilty on April 4 for the murder of Madhu. The court pronounced the judgement on April 5, sending 13 accused to seven years of RI, while one accused was awarded three months imprisonment.
The death of Madhu sent shockwaves across Kerala as he was accused of stealing food items and was reportedly mentally unstable. The image of Madhu tied by his hands and standing in the video shot by the mob was more than disturbing. He was attacked and paraded in the nearby town and succumbed to his injuries while the police were taking him to a local medical facility.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited Madhu's family on March 2, 2018, which explains the impact created by the death of the tribal youth, probably for crimes he never committed.
Minister for SC and ST welfare in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, K Radhakrishnan, expressed satisfaction over the verdict and extended support to the apprehensions raised by the family members of Madhu.
“There were talks of the case being hijacked and the government being insensitive. But the verdict proves the role and actions of the government were on the right path to seek justice,” Radhakrishnan told the media after the punishment was pronounced.
The trial proceedings began on February 22, 2022, after two advocates withdrew as public prosecutors. The family members of Madhu, including her mother and sister stood firm in pressing the case seeking justice.
FAMILY TO FILE APPEAL
The first accused was fined Rs 1,05,000, and others were fined Rs 1,18,000 by the special court. The family members, however, expressed disappointment over the sentence awarded to the culprits and have decided to file an appeal.
The Kerala government has announced extending support to the family for filing the appeal in a higher court. Radhakrishnan announced that the family will be provided with all necessary support for the legal fight. The minister, too, had expressed satisfaction with the conviction of the culprits.
The family also expressed dissatisfaction over the acquittal of two of the accused and has decided to file an appeal.
The number of atrocities against SC and ST communities in Kerala has witnessed a steady increase in recent years. In 2022, the police department filed 1,257 cases as compared to 1,081 cases in 2021. With high pendency and low conviction rate, the judgement on the Madhu murder case has come as a ray of hope for the victims.
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