The suicide of Vinayakan, a 19-year old Dalit youth from Engadiyur, Thrissur on July 18, doesn’t seem to be taken in by the people of Kerala with deserved gravity.
A hairstylist by profession, the youth was picked up by the police on July 17 along with a friend Sarath by the Pavaratty police. Vinayakan’s father had earlier alleged that Vinayakan was physically tortured and verbally abused at the police station. The postmortem report confirms these allegations. The police said that Vinayakan was taken into custody after seeing him talking to a girl. His father was called to the station after which he was let off. However, his friend says that Vinayakan was brutally beaten up and his hair was pulled out. His father too testifies that Vinayakan was utterly worn out. The postmortem reports verifies that there were signs of torture on his head and chest as well as injuries on his legs caused by boots. There were also signs of physical torture all over the body.
Pained by the arrest, physical torture and humiliation, Vinayakan hang himself to death. His suicide is a perfect example of the attitude of the government machinery and the power centres towards a Dalit youth hailing from a poor background. The legal provisions of taking someone into police custody in the name of ‘talking to a girl’ is yet to be clarified. Vinayakan has not been until now, accused or punished in any case. Nor have any complaints been raised against him earlier. In that case, it can be concluded that it’s the prejudices practiced by a conservative system like the police force towards someone who practice an alternative lifestyle that led to the picking up of Vinayakan. His caste as well as skin colour might have influenced the behavour towards him at the police station. It’s the approach of our general conscience towards those with alternative lifestyles and the marginalised that took the form of torture on Vinayakan at Pavaratty police station.
It’s been a week since Vinayakan hung himself to death. However, no legal actions have been taken by the government other than suspending two police officers at the police station. If a helpless Dalit youth has been compelled to give up his life due to police torture while the Left Front is in power, it’s a matter of grave concern. It was in Thrissur itself that an artist Martin who belong to a music band Oorali was subjected to torture for his long hair months ago. All these incidents show that the police force however modernised it is, haven’t been freed from the tangles of conservatism and general consciousness. Rohit Vemula’s suicide had quoted a controversy and triggered discourses all across the nation. Kerala too had witnessed a lot of supporters standing up for Vemula. However, even after a youth went through similar experiences as Rohit in our very own Thrissur, why does the political and social organisations as well as the media fail in approaching the matter with political consciousness?The sloppiness we display towards Vinayakan’s death should certainly be corrected. Those who stand up for democratic values should come forward to track down the culprits responsible for Vinayakan’s death and to penalise them deservingly.