Everyone might be familiar with the movie Jai Bhimalam and the socially admissible topic the movie tried to bring forward with a real-life affair. In the movie, there is a dialogue where K.Chandru (Actor Surya) invokes the Rajan case to request a person under arrest be brought before the judge for questioning. So, what is the Rajan murder case?
Rajan Murder Case
During the nationwide emergency period in India, left-wing extremist attacks were common in the rural areas of Kerala. These attackers were called Naxals or Naxalites. P.Rajan was a final year engineering student at Regional Engineering College (REC), Calicut known as the National Institute of Technology (NIT Calicut) today. He was a merit scholarship holder, radio and stage singer, and actor.
Rajan was allegedly arrested by the Kerala police on March 1, 1976, while he was at the college hostel. He was returning back after participating in a University ‘B’ zone arts festival. The police claimed that he was a Naxalite. No one saw or heard of him afterwards.
Rajan was never entailed in politics. This story came to the limelight due to the lifelong struggle of Prof. Eachara Warrier, Rajan’s father. He made inquiries to the police, sent petitions to the Home Secretary, I.G. of Police, Home Minister, Chief Minister, and to the powers in the Central. He even met the then Chief Minister C Achutha Menon. He moved to the court when the emergency was lifted in 1977.
It was proved that Rajan was taken into police custody when three witnesses gave their testimonies. K.Rajan, who used to run a typewriting institute in Chathamangalam near the college, was an important witness in the case. He stated in his affidavit that he saw six men torturing Rajan in a tourist bungalow at Kakkayam on March 2nd. Two final year students, Jacob George and Thomas George saw a group of policemen raiding the college and taking Rajan and another student Joseph Chaali away in a police van. Further inquiries, investigations, and battles fought by Rajan’s father indeed found that Rajan was taken into police custody and died due to brutal torturing and interrogation, possibly under the barbaric nature of “uruttal” method.
Also Read: 4 Murderers In Kerala Who Were As Deadly As Jolly Joseph
Uruttal was a heinous third-degree torturing method using a long wooden rod “olakka”. The accused is made to lie down on a bench. The olakka is placed across their thighs. It is slowly rolled up and down using the weight of heavily built people on either side. It doesn’t sound “torturous” and there will be no visible injuries. But the way it works is worse. It slowly separates the flesh of the thighs from the bone leaving the muscles crushed. Finally, the skin gets imprinted on the wooden rod while rolling. Even a small tap on the leg after this process seems like taking the life out of a person. The victim will be unable to stand or move their legs.
There were outbreaks on various levels when news of the Rajan murder case came out. The state government was not able to produce him even when the High Court demanded. Four police officers were suspended.
The matter was brought up during the election speeches. Rajan’s father met him in person and Karunakaran said that he would do everything possible to help him. Later, Karunakaran gave an affidavit denying Rajan’s arrest along with Chief Minister C Achutha Menon, D.G.P. (Crime Branch) Jayaram Padikkal, and many others. Karunakaran who became Chief Minister during the 1977 elections had to step down from his position exactly one month after coming to the post. The High Court observed that he gave false testimonies in Rajan’s habeas corpus case.
The details of the struggles of Prof.T V Eachara Warrier was written and published in his book “Memories Of A Father” (Orachante Ormakkurippukal).
Also Read: From Snake Bite To Cold-Blooded Murder: The Ugly Truth Behind Uthra’s Murder
NIT Ragam Fest
There were protests from students all over Kerala. In 1977, the All Kerala Rajan Memorial Music competition was initiated to honor his life. However, it was discontinued later. In 1987, this competition was revived in the form of an inter-collegiate cultural fest named Ragam. It hosts various dance, music, and other art programs.
Ragam has made its way to the Limca book of records in 2015, featuring the most number of people in a single selfie. Little did students from other colleges know about the painful history behind one of the most famous intercollegiate fests in South India. In 2006, Ragam started with a solemn message read by Eachara Warrier. He passed away during the same year due to several health problems.
Also Read: Here’s How The Students Of NIT Calicut Created A Virtual Campus
Ragam fest and the life and struggles led by Prof.Eachara Warrier points to the injustice at the hands of the state and officials. Even after 46 years since the Rajan murder case, uruttal practice still prevails.