Sirajunnisa – The Forgotten Hindutva Victim!

Rejaz M Sydeek

Today, December 15, 2020 marks the 29th martyrdom day of the then 6th grade school student of Thondikulam upper primary school, 11-year-old Muslim girl, Sirajunnisa who was murdered while playing in the courtyard of her house at Puthuppally in Palakkad District of Kerala. How is she a ‘martyr’? Did she participate in any political movements? No. Then why is her death anniversary observed as martyrdom?

She was murdered by the state police of the Kerala government led by Congress back in 1991. But even before and after her murder, people including children have gotten murdered by the Police, so what is special about her? She was murdered by Hindutva Kerala police only because of her Muslim religious identity.

We all know that the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 was a pre-planned one, not a sudden action by Hindutva terrorists. RSS and other Hindutva terror groups have held Pre-Babri demolition rallies all across the country to spread hate and it has also traveled through Kerala.

On 13th December, 1991, Upayatra led by Yuva Morcha Kerala state president, KP Shrishan who was meant to join the BJP National President, Dr Murali Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra ( Kashmir to Kanyakumari) was attacked in Mepparambu, Palakkad, Kerala. Just like BJP wanted, violent communal attacks were instigated against minorities throughout the journey. Tense situations prevailed on the very next day and police were stationed and given the instructions to control law and order. But the police who were meant to chain the mad turned out to be mad. On December 15, reports came that several minor skirmishes were instigated by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghand to avoid and curb further clashes, and police were deployed to the area. But instead of arresting the fascists, police harassed and attacked innocent Muslims. Raman Srinivastava was the then Director Inspector General (DIG) of Kerala Police and the right hand of then Congress chief minister Karunakaran who is known for granting extra-judicial power to the police during the draconian emergency period.

Raman Srinivastav

Raman Srinivastav was the head of police operations in wake of the violence and he directed his junior colleagues from the police control room. Assistant Superintendent of Police, B Sandhya IPS was patrolling through Puthuppally junction and was informed that roads were blocked using huge stones. She rushed to the spot and after an elderly pedestrian was forced to remove the stones, arguments took place between the police and locals. Extra police were deployed and in the wake of section 144, Police were stationed at all points of the road. At this time Sirajunnisa and her sister were playing in front of her home which is 200 meters away from the above-mentioned place. The police team reported about the scuffle through the wireless to Raman Srinivastava and he asked whether anyone was present on the streets. ASP Sandhya and Deputy Superintendent of Police, Chandran replied, Everyone dispersed and there were only two kids on the streets. “Shoot them down if no one else is around and let them die like dogs”, this was Raman Srinivastav’s order. Sandhya reported that everything was peaceful and no actions were needed. The final order by Raman Srinivastava to Sandhya and Chandran was, “I want to see the dead bodies of Muslim bastards”. Constables quickly executed the order of DIG by shooting Sirajunnisa and the bullet hit just below Sirajunisa’s nose and exited through the back of her head, which resulted in her instant death.

After hearing the gunshots, neighbours, mother and uncle of Sirajunnisa rushed to the spot. They were brutally lathi-charged by the police and they were not even allowed to pick Sirajunnisa. Sulaiman and Muhammad were the ones to pick Sirajunnisa from the road and they testified before the media that police brutally beat them. Sulaiman who is the uncle of Sirajunnisa added that even the mother and elder sister of Sirajunnisa got beaten by police. The onlookers and others who offered help to the family of the Sirajunnisa in the road were beaten by the heartless police officers. After the brutality, police took the dead Sirajunnisa in the jeep to the hospital.

Even after murdering Sirajunnisa, Police labeled her as a “rioter” by naming her as first accused in FIR which reported, “Sirajunisa was leading a violent mob of more than 200 people to the nearby Brahmins-dominated village to indulge in violence and arson”. From the fact-finding report, the author got the contents of the FIR. The report says that the mob in which Sirajunnisa was accused to be part carried stones, kerosene, and sticks for attacking. In their report, Police said that they had no way but to fire at the mob in which the Sirajunnisa was part of. But facts prove that no violent incidents happened in the area where Sirajunnisa resided.

Sirajunnisa lived in a Muslim populated area and it had no history of communalism and lived in harmony with other communities. The fact-finding report will bring tears to every reader because whoever was spotted by police were brutally tortured physically. Since the area was dominated by Muslims, victims of police brutality were Muslims. The FIR was murdering Sirajunnisa and the oppressed Muslim community again and again. The government handed over compensation of rupees 10,000 to her family only in the year 2000 to close the case.

Naming Sirajunnisa in the FIR was to justify the murder done by police. This colonial practice can be seen during the times of 1921 Malabar revolt by Malabar Special Police (MSP) and British. The British Government labeled Muslim revolutionaries as fanatics and butchers of Hindus. Surprisingly still today the website of Malabar Special Police depicts those Muslim Revolutionaries as religious fanatics. Not only British and Congress, but CPI(M) also did the same when they were in power. The Beemapalli massacre happened during the term of LDF Government of VS Achuthanandan. On May 17, 2009, six Muslims including a 16-year-old boy hailing from the fishing community of Beemapalli, Trivandrum were murdered by Kerala police. 30-52 other people were also injured from bullet wounds and the shooting stopped only when the police ran out of ammunition. Police told that shooting orders were given to quell the communal clashes. Police also added that the Muslim community planned to attack a Christian church. The 16-year-old boy who was playing in the beach was murdered using the bayonet of the police gun. The communal clashes never took place there and look, the same narrative which was used by the British during colonial period and Congress in case of Sirajjunnisa was also used by the self-proclaimed secular CPI(M) in Beemapally.

From the fact-finding report done on this murder by Yuvajana Vedhi, the author was given information by a social activist named Hamza of Palakkad. From it the author came to know that police officers came and without any warning and provocation, they fired at a house and Sirajunnisa. Hamza also claimed that the constable who is said to have shot Sirajunnisa cried in front of him and said that it was someone else who fired the girl. The constable who hailed from lower caste and is said to have suffered from mental trauma after the incident and controversies which followed it.

There were a lot of witnesses to Raman Srinivastava’s monstrous order through wireless which includes the then state irrigation minister, TM Jacob, MLAs and other officials who were attending a meeting at the Palakkad district collectorate. The murder of Sirajunnisa was used as a political tool by CPI(M) in Ottapalam Lok Sabha Constituency against Congress for elections. To no surprise, no actions were taken against the police officers who were responsible for murdering Sirajunnisa. Raman Srinivastav and the officers who were present in the spot were not even touched and all investigations were conducted for namesake. After the complaint was filed by social activist and witness, Koolkadan Moosa Haji in Supreme court, Supreme Court instructed Kerala government to handover the case to a police officer with a minimum rank of Inspector General. The investigation was headed by Sibi Mathews IPS and due to delay in investigation and interests of state government and police, the perpetrators escaped. The Yohannan Judicial Commission which investigated the case concluded that a stray bullet hit an electric post and then a shred from it hit the head of Sirajunnisa. But the electric post mentioned in the report was only installed after the second month of Sirajunnisa’s murder. The ballistic and forensic report stated that it was a bullet shot from a police gun which resulted in her death. The commission didn’t even register the statements of witnesses to Sirajunnisa’s murder and those who were lathi-charged while picking her from the spot. The entire judicial system and Congress-CPI(M) government helped the culprits to escape. Most importantly It took eight years to clear the name of Sirajunnisa from the list of rioters. Under EK Nayannar’s government, the crime branch concluded that 11-year-old Sirajunnisa is innocent. Surely, the Brahmanic conscience of Kerala must have got offended by the report of the crime branch.

Raman Srinivastav who was promoted to the post of Director General of Police by Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in 2005 was appointed as State Police Advisor in 2017 by Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo Member and Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan despite his infamous history. The state police advisor is also the present security advisor of a private corporate company, Muthoot Group in Kerala. It should be noted that it was CPI(M) who protested against Raman Srinivastav and Karunakaran government in 1991 for killing Sirajunnisa. So we can politically say that Sirajunnisa was used and betrayed by CPI(M).

Jamaat E Islami, Welfare Party, Popular Front of India and SDPI had joined hands with the Hindutva Congress and Revisionist CPI(M) for elections in various parts of Kerala in spite of knowing that Congress and CPI(M) protected Raman Srinivastav. Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) who were with the Karunakaran government then in 1991 didn’t hit the streets when Raman Srinivastav gave Islamophobic directions to kill a child and Indian National League (INL) of LDF did not dare to question about Srinivastav’s appointment by Pinarayi Vijayan. It’s a fact that injustice suffered by marginalized and loss of Sirajunnisa is below the electoral votes for these parties.

When the Kerala government was criticised by the public for the 118 Police Act Amendment, Pinarayi Vijayan had no other option other than to withdraw it. He told, it was a mistake by his police advisor, Raman Srinivasatav. He earlier strongly defended the act. So who is controlling the Chief Minister of Kerala and his decisions? If we check the statistics we can know that there is an increase in custodial deaths of accused’s in police custody. On another side, political activists are charged under UA(P)A and extra-judicial killings of eight Maoists by Thunderbolt Commandos took place after LDF and Raman Srinivastav came into power. Undoubtedly we can say that it’s Srinivastav who is controlling the strings of Pinarayi Vijayan’s Home department. The 1973 batch IPS officer Srinivastav who was blamed in 1994 for alleged involvement in the infamous ISRO espionage case was also recently blamed within CPI(M) for the recent vigilance raid at Kerala State Financial Enterprise Office. But still, Pinarayi didn’t doubt Raman Srinivastav.

Was the present CPI(M) government able to reduce the police atrocities or take disciplinary actions against the officers? No. Around thirty people are reported to be killed because of Kerala Police direct and indirect involvement. The list also includes the people who accused Police of the abetment of suicide. During the Anti NRC-CAA protests in Kerala, Muslims who gave the call for boycotting BJP’s campaign in support of NRC were arrested and Muslims who put up a banner saying that it was Godse who killed Gandhi were also arrested. Even during the time of Covid and Lockdown period, Kerala Police was granted excess power. Islamophobic incidents involving Kerala police were reported from Palakkad district. In Palakkad, two Muslim youngsters were pepper-sprayed at their private parts by police officers and SI Sudeesh Kumar shouted at them, “You should not give birth to Muslims”. When asked about Police atrocities during his tenure, Pinarayi Vijayan said that he won’t do anything that affects the morale of Kerala Police. The interests, history and service of Raman Srinivastav as advisor to Pinarayi Vijayan and Pinarayi Vijayan’s soft nature on Police are in favor of the ruling class and Brahmanic Hindutva India.