Marad massacre: Special squad probing conspiracy
VR Jayaraj | Kozhikode
A special team of the Kerala Police’s Crime Branch has started investigation into the conspiracy, terror links, inter-state connections and sources of funds behind the 2002 and 2003 riots at Marad, a fishing village in Kozhikode district.
In the massacre at Marad (Marad 1) on May 2, 2003 eight Hindu fishermen were hacked to death in the dark of the night. One Muslim also was killed in the incident. Five persons were killed in the riots of January 2 and 3, 2002 at Marad (Marad 2).
The new probe has been launched in accordance with the recommendation of the Justice Thomas P Joseph Commission of inquiry that aspects like conspiracy behind the incident should be investigated by a separate agency. The Kerala Government had twice tried to get the CBI to probe these aspects but Centre had not given the go-ahead for this.
The probe is being carried out by a team led by three Superintendents of Police (Crime Branch) and four Deputy SPs. The State Cabinet had taken the decision to hold the probe two months ago and the order in this regard was issued two weeks ago. The Hindu Araya Samajam has been demanding such a probe for a long time.
The investigation is being headed by SP CM Pradeepkumar of the Hurt and Homicides Wing of the Crime Branch, Kozhikode. He is being assisted by SPs NP Balakrishnan and PA Valsan. The preparations for the probe were carried out secretly to avoid attempts to cash in on it in the context of the October 23-25 civic polls in the State.
The Thomas P Joseph Commission, which had taken over the inquiry from the Crime Branch in August, 2003, had said in its report that no serious probe had been held into the conspiracy, interference of external forces, sources of funds and inter-state relations and recommended a probe by an agency like the CBI. However, as this was not held, the case came back to the Crime Branch.
According to sources, the arrest of Nizamuddin, 148th accused in the case, at the Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery on Friday was part of the new investigations. Nizamuddin was held after he landed at the airport from Qatar. A special court had sentenced 62 of the total 148 accused to life imprisonment on January 15, 2009.
The Special Marad Commission had in its report unleashed severe criticism against political parties like the CPI(M) and the Muslim League. The commission had also pulled up the investigating officer and then Inspector General (Crime Branch) Mahesh Kumar Singla.
Singla had stated before the commission that the investigations had not been able to establish the role of external forces in the riots. However, doubts have been raised by some quarters over the rationale behind handing over the probe to the Crime Branch once again.
Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Saturday confirmed to the media that both the riots in Marad would be probed by a special Crime Branch Police team. Five people had died in the 2002 riots, which were said to be the reason for the second incident.
Though the State had written to the Union Government several times recommending CBI probe into the conspiracy behind the riots and involvement of fundamentalist outfits, their foreign connections, source of funding and how they succeeded in secretly stockpiling weapons in the village for use in the riots, the request was rejected, he said.
Since the Centre rejected the State’s request, the Government had decided to entrust the investigation to the Crime Branch, he said, adding that even the Kerala High Court had not considered the State’s request seriously