Sreejith’s 764-day battle gets support

The 764-day long agitation that is being undertaken by a youth in front of the Secretariat has come under focus once again with the social media taking up the cause and the government deciding to reiterate its demand for a CBI probe into the custodial death of his brother.

Thirty-year old Sreejith has been demonstrating on the sidewalk adjoining the Secretariat for over two years, demanding an investigation by the CBI into the death of his brother Sreejeev who, he alleged, had been brutally tortured to death by the police.

Despite the growing support for Mr. Sreejith’s protest, the Centre had evidently turned down the State government’s request for a CBI probe into the alleged incident, claiming that the case was “not of rare and exceptional nature” that warranted probe by the agency.

The letter sent by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, a few days ago, also stated the CBI was “over-burdened” with cases. Nonetheless, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the Chief Secretary to write to the Ministry, seeking a review of its decision, saying the State had taken a compassionate view of Mr. Sreejith’s agitation.

Sreejeev had been arrested by the Parassala police on May 19, 2014 for allegedly stealing a mobile phone. He was admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College Hospital the next day with the police claiming that he had consumed poison in the cell. He died in the hospital on May 21, 2014.

However, the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), which had investigated the incident, recommended action against the police officers concerned after pronouncing that Sreejeev had been subjected to custodial torture.

The Chief Minister’s office said a compensation of ₹10 lakh had been provided to the aggrieved family within a month of the SPCA recommendation. The amount was borne by the police officers concerned. The State also issued directions to institute a probe against the officers. However, the decision was stayed by the Kerala High Court.

Leaders meet Sreejith

Prominent leaders including Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president Kummanam Rajasekharan visited Mr. Sreejith on Saturday, pledging their support towards his agitation. Speaking to media persons, Mr. Chennithala said he would seek the State government’s intervention in the issue. He added that approaching the court for a CBI probe was the best option that Mr. Sreejith had.

Dramatic scenes unfolded during his visit with one of Mr. Sreejith’s friends claiming that the incident had taken place when Mr. Chennithala was the Home Minister.

He accused the Congress leader of having mocked Mr. Sreejith then. The supporters of the demonstration appealed to the political leaders to refrain from utilising the issue for political gains.