16 January, 2009

Marad carnage: 62 people get life sentence

Times of India, 16th January, 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A special court in Kerala's Kozhikode district on Thursday sentenced 62 people to life imprisonment for the communal killing of nine people in coastal village of Marad more than five years ago.

On May 2, 2003, nine people eight fishermen and one of the attackers were killed in Marad. The attackers came from the sea under the cover of night, hacked the fishermen who were sleeping on the beach and escaped.

Additional sessions judge (special court) Babu Mathew P Joseph also sentenced one person Abdul Latheef, who was the secretary of the local Juma Masjid committee to five years' imprisonment for misusing a place of worship. The judge said the case didn't fall under the category of rarest of rare crime, hence life sentence was the most appropriate.

The court had on December 27, 2008, convicted 63 of the 139 accused in the case.

Though a one-man judicial commission hinted at an international conspiracy behind the incident, the prosecution couldn't prove this in court. Although the commission headed by district judge Thomas P Joseph recommended a CBI probe into the matter, political interference ensured that this didn't happen. The panel had hinted at the role of some Muslim League leaders in the carnage.

The panel said police botched the case and planted fake leads. The then state government headed by A K Antony had refused to order a CBI probe. The Left, then in the Opposition, didn't favour a CBI inquiry either.

Terming Antony's refusal to hand over the case to the CBI as "unjustified'', it said, "The failure of the Crime Branch CID to investigate into the larger conspiracy involving other forces, source of all weapons and the source of the large funding in the planning and execution of the massacre at Marad beach on May 2, 2003 is quite suspicious and disturbing.''

According to the prosecution, the massacre was a revenge for the 2002 violence in Marad in which three Muslims and two Hindus were killed over a minor altercation.

The commission blamed some bureacrats and politicians for their alleged role in the communal carnage. It especially pointed at the role of the then district collector T O Sooraj. He had taken control of the Marad Juma Masjid soon after the clashes following information that some of the accused were hiding there. Police recovered a huge cache of arms from the mosque. The collector allegedly allowed Muslim League MP E Ahmed, now MoS for external affairs, to enter the mosque.

Also Visit: Marad Hindu Massacre

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