Inquiry report slams Beemapally police firing

Special Correspondent

Says district administration failed in defusing tension

KOCHI: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which conducted an investigation into the May 17 police firing at Beemapally-Cheriathura in Thiruvananthapuram district, in which six people were killed, has said the firing was unjustified.

The PUCL had sent a 12-member team to study the firing and its causes. The police action was widely criticised by human rights organisations. “The investigating team was not convinced that circumstances that could justify the police firing existed there,” the PUCL team’s report, released in Kochi recently, said.

The team said the police and the district administration had failed miserably in defusing the rising tension between two communities in the area. “The people in the Beemapally-Cheriathura area have been polarised communally,” the report said. “This has been the result of the communal tension and distrust that developed in the wake of the criminal activities of anti-social elements like one ‘Kombu’ Shibu and the inactivity of the police and the district administration,” the report said. It said communal polarisation still prevailed and called upon the government to take long-term measures to tackle it. The team pointed out that the police had not followed the set series of procedures before ordering the firing. It asked the government to take strong action against the erring police officials. It called for criminal prosecution of the police officers who were responsible for the firing.

The PUCL urged the government to immediately pay the compensation it had announced to the families of the victims and the injured. Those whose houses, fishing gear etc, had been damaged should also be adequately compensated, it said. The PUCL team criticised the district administration for not taking steps to ease the communal tension which had been building up in the area for years. The probe team included senior journalist B.R.P. Bhaskar, PUCL State functionaries P. Chandrasekhar, P.A. Pouran and Jacob V. Lazer.

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