The Taliban-model murder of Shahid alias Bava (26) of Kodiyathur in Kerala’s Kozhikode district by a gang with reported extremist connections in an act of moral policing for his alleged relationship with a girl has generated widespread protests in the State. The Kerala Police think that a religious extremist outfit could have direct involvement in the incident.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (North) S Sreejith said that investigators were examining the incident’s possible connection to an extremist group. He said a probe had already started by a special investigation team of the police. Jossy Cheriyan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Kozhikode would head the investigation team.
“This tendency is not acceptable in Kerala. We will bring all the culprits to book,” Sreejith said. Kodiyathur is a prosperous village near Kozhikode city with heavy concentration of Muslim population and reports suggest that a particular extremist organization has immense influence in that area.
Terming it as a Taliban-model murder, Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan said the incident was proof of the collapse of the law and order system in the State under the Congress-led UDF regime. In a statement issued in Thiruvananthapuram, the octogenarian Marxist said the police were taking an impassive attitude towards criminals.
State BJP president V Muraleedharan said that the incident was indicative of Talibanism taking roots in the Kerala society. He said in Kozhikode that Talibanism was first witnessed in Kerala in the Islamist attack on a college professor last year. “The police should find the religious extremist forces behind this and take stringent action against them urgently,” he said.
The police have taken five persons into custody for questioning over the Kodiyathur incident. Kozhikode District Collector PB Saleem said arrest of two persons had been recorded. Two of those taken into custody on Monday were suspected to have direct connections with an extremist organization. Sources said the police had got vital information on all the culprits.
On Sunday, Shahid, hailing from Cheruvadi in Kodiyathur, succumbed to the grave injuries he had suffered in the attack at November 9 midnight. Preliminary reports said that the ‘moral police’ had attacked him after they found him in suspicious circumstances at an unearthly hour near a house where only women lived but Shahid’s relatives denied this.
According to local people, Shahid had tried to escape the torture by climbing atop a tree but the assailants brought him down with heavy stone-pelting and continued to torture him using iron rods and other weapons after tying him to a tree. When the local residents tried to intervene, the assailants scared them away.
A relative of Shahid said the hoodlums did not even allow the local people to remove him to the hospital even when he fell unconscious and was bleeding profusely. A large party of police had to reach the spot to take Shahid with serious injuries in his head and legs to a private hospital in Kodiyathur where he died on Sunday.
Islamist terror men, who had cut off the right hand of Professor TJ Joseph in Muvattupuzha on July 4, 2010, in a Taliban-model attack had scared away the local people around during by bursting bombs. Prof Joseph was attacked for preparing a test paper in which a question allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammad.
The police have received information that only three or four persons were there when the attack on Shahid started and that they had called more men to join them using mobile phone. It has also been reported that some of the attackers had grabbed pictures of the torture on their mobile cameras.