Koothuparamba firing (Malayalam :കൂത്തുപറമ്പ് വെടിവയ്പ്പ്) was a police action on 25 November 1994. It was named after the Koothuparamba town, Kerala, India. The event took place at Tellicherry Road, in the Kannur district of Kerala. The firing happened after the inauguration of the Co-operative Urban Bank’s evening branch. The inauguration was performed by M. V. Raghavan, the Kerala’s Minister of Co-operation and Ports. Raghavan had once been a leader of the Marxist Communist Party of India (CPIM). However, after his expulsion from CPIM, he formed his own party, the Communist Marxist Party (CMP). He and his party then stood on the opposite side with CPIM, and aligned with the United Democratic Front. The Kannur district was a stronghold of CPI(M), especially for their youth wing - the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The DYFI tried to prevent his visits to Kannur District. However, the inauguration was ensued in chaos and agitation, which the DYFI termed as "a protest against M.V. Raghavan, Communist Marxist Party (CMP) leader and Kerala’s Minister, for starting the medical college as a self-financing institution at Pariyaram, Kannur", and "Granting government quota seats to the management.", The police fired at the crowd for both the protection of the Minister and public and private property. Five DYFI activists were dead and six people were injured. Those who were facing criminal proceedings included the then sub-divisional magistrate Antony, DySP Abdul Hakkim Bathery, and constables P K Lukose, Sivadasan and Balachandran. They were charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy by a magistrate court based on a private complaint.
Cause and the Incident
The political party called C.P.I.(M)– The Communist Party of India (Marxist) was dominant in the Kannur District of the State of Kerala. One of its leaders (a comrade-in-arms) called M.V. Raghavan, broke away from the party after 15 years and formed a new political party called – CMP (The Communist Marxist Party). The CMP soon became a constituent of the United Democratic Front, which formed the Government that took hold of power in the State of Kerala.
Raghavan became a minister in the UDF Government, in charge of Co-operation and Ports. The Youth Wing of the C.P.I.(M) became greatly offended by this and took matters into their own hands by ensuring Raghavan was pretended from entering the Kannur District.
In January 1993, Raghavan made a visit to Kannur District and had a few country-made bombs hurled at him. Following that incident, the Government arranged for extra security measures to be taken during Raghavan’s visits to Kannur District. Contrary to the advice given by the district administration, on 25 November 1994, Raghavan made plans to visit and attend the inauguration of the ‘evening branch of the Co-operative Urban Bank’, located in the Alakkandy Complex at Kuthuparamba – Tellicherry Road, Kannur District.
The first firing occurred in the proximity of the town hall, on the orders of the Executive Magistrate and the Deputy Superintendent of Police. The second firing occurred in vicinity of Kuthuparamba’s police station on the orders of the Superintendent of Police. Five people were killed and six injured, followed by more than a hundred, also injured (including a few police personnel) by the use of a lathi (a heavy bamboo stick often used as a weapon by the police in South Asia)
The Koothuparamba firing resulted in the immediate death of five activists from the DYFI. Six more activists were injured at the hands of the police. These victims were students who choose to protest against commoditization and privatization of education. These students were known for their strong beliefs against the government of Kerala. These students were particularly upset over the imperialistic policies employed by the Kerala government and the globalization propaganda.
These five youth are K.K. Rajeevan, Madhu, Shibulal, Babu and Roshan.
After the death of the youth, a larger scale firing took place. Leaving hundreds of people injured. The court proceeded to hear the case. The shooting was argued to be unprovoked by the Solicitor General. Since the protesters did not pose a threat to the life of the Minister, it was argued that the shooting was unnecessary. Many articles consider these students martyrs for sacrificing their lives. They are considered heroes in the fight against privatization of education. The victim’s demonstration and alleged martyrdom is considered as one of the earliest examples in the neo-liberal period. The Neo-liberal reforms in India started in 1991.
The cause that the victims are fighting for is a concern that is spread all over India. In a study by L J Perry, it is found that India has the highest involvement of strikes and shortages. Take note, L. J. Perry studies the difference between four countries including India, Indonesia, United States and Australia.
There were two firings that took place on 25 November 1994. The first firing took place in the vicinity of the town hall, where Minister M.V. Raghavan (Minister of Co-operatives and Ports) was inaugurating the Co-operative Urban Bank. The second firing took place in the vicinity of the Koothuparamba Police Station. . T.T Anthony (Deputy Collector and Executive Magistrate), M.V. Raghavan, and A.H Bathery (Deputy Superintendent of Police) were accused for the initiation of the firing and the death of five DYFI members. Two FIRs were lodged on the day of the incident, and an Inquiry Commission report was sent to the Government. On 30 June 1997, the report was accepted by the government and directions for taking legal actions against the accused were given. On 2 July 1997 the Director General of police, sent instructions to Inspector General of Police (North Zone) to file a case and have it investigated by a senior officer. The Inspector General of Police said that "firing without justifications by which people were killed amounted to murder." He later told the Station House Officer to register file a case and send a copy of the FIR to the Deputy Superintendent of Police. An interim report was filed by the DIG of Police on 29 September 1998 in the court of Judicial First Class Magistrate.
Three Writ Petitions were filed by, T.T Anthony, ASP R.A Chandrashekhar, and Police Constable Damodaran who fired the shot at the incident. The Single Judge of High Court decided to discard the Writs and ordered for further C.B.I investigation. At this stage, six other Writ petitions were filed, three by the three accused and the other three by the state of Kerala. The Division Bench of the High Court ordered that the ASP should be relieved of the charged and the FIR be quashed. At the same time the Division Bench ordered a further investigation by the Kerala State Police to be conducted instead of C.B.I. The senior counsel of the Executive Magistrate pleaded that the actions of Mr. T.T Anthony did not constitute offense as that action was a part of his duty. He supported his pleading by quoting the Inquiry Commission Report, which stated that the DYFI were behaving in an unruly and uncivilized manner.
The solicitor brought in the Legislative provisions that supported that the Executive Magistrate had the powers and reiterated that it would be illegal to treat a rightfully made executive order as an offense. The solicitor general pointed out to the fact that the Divisional Bench order to get the matter investigated by the police was not challenged by all accused and therefore the accused party cannot challenge the findings of the investigation report. This being a cognizable offense should have gone before the court. According to the Solicitor General, the F.I.R still stays because an offense was indeed done which resulted into the death of five persons.
Since the place where the DYFI members were killed was far from where the Minister was, the DYFI members could not have posed a threat to the Minister’s life. The Solicitor General referred to the conclusion of previous proceedings, in which the ASP was already released as per the order of the Divisional Bench and could not be counted among the accused. It is argued that the Inquiry Commission report has no evidential value and it is only of recommendation value. According to the Solicitor General, the High Court Judge erred in determining that the ASP be exonerated based on the commission report.
The court will not interfere with the decision that the ASP is to be exonerated. However, to throw more light on the facts surrounding the matter, further investigation could still be pursued by the agencies with the leave of the court. The reasons given for the decision by the Bench are based on the constitutional provisions that allow the Commissioner of Police to follow the law of the land. The interpretation of this being that the executive magistrate's order was as per the law of land, and all the police staff was duty bound to follow it.
- TNN (26 June 2012). "Koothuparamba firing: HC quashes murder charges against officials.". Retrieved 16 August 2012.
- India. Supreme Court of India. T.T.Antony vs State Of Kerala & Ors on 12 July 2001. By S. S. Quadri. N.p., 12 July 2001. Web. 15 Aug. 2012. <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1974324/>.
- L. J. Perry (July–September 2006). "Neo-liberal Labor Market Reforms and Work Stoppages: Comparisons of India, Indonesia, the United States and Australia". AMDISA Secretariat. Retrieved 16 August 2012.