11 years on, justice eludes Muslim victims of Beemapalli police firing

Those killed in the police firing on May 17, 2009 - pic from mediaonetv.in

By Najiya O, TwoCircles.net

11 years ago, police action in Beemapalli in Kerala led to the killing of six people – all Muslims. Najiyo O revisits the incidents and finds justice still eludes the victims as no one has been punished and the enquiry report conducted by Justice Ramakrishnan Commission has still not been made public.

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KERALA: May 17 marked the eleventh anniversary of the brutal Beemapalli police firing in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, in which six people were killed and 52 others were injured.

The report of the Justice Ramakrishnan Commission that conducted an inquiry into the incident has not been made public yet. However, the families of the victims have received compensation of Rs 10 lakhs each and a family member was given employment too.

Eleven years after the killing, the main demands from Beemapalli are to bring out the enquiry report, take action against the policemen involved and to avail full compensation for the three people who were injured in the firing and died later.

Nizam was hit by a bullet in his right thigh and had to cut his leg off a few inches above the knee. He has been using the same artificial leg for the last 11 years.

“It had to be changed after five years, but I cannot afford it,” Nizam told TwoCircles.net.  “I cannot do any heavy work. I cannot stand on my legs for a long time. After the firing, I have been driving an auto-rickshaw for a living. But sitting for a long time also is difficult for me,” he says.

The firing took place a day after his wife gave birth to their first child. They have two children now. Nizam was provided Rs 5 lakhs as compensation, of which a good amount was spent on the surgery and artificial leg, he said.

The Firing

The Parliament election results of 2009 were announced on May 16. After the celebrations by victorious parties, a scuffle broke out between the people of Beemapalli and nearby Cheriyathura, when a person – reportedly a goon from Cheriyathura – refused to pay the bill after having tea. The police came in. Talks were held between the two parties in the presence of the sub-Collector who reportedly ordered the arrest of the goon. But that did not happen.

Early the next morning, there was heavy armed police presence in the neighbouring areas of Cheriyathura and Valiyathura. People were out on the roads, following the challenge of the goon that he wouldn’t let the celebration of ‘Urs’ (a local festival in the masjid) that year, which was to take place the next month. When he again began to create trouble, people flocked on the beach and refused to disperse. It was during this chaotic situation that the police took to firing at around 2.30 pm which killed five Muslims on the spot and another one in the hospital. Among the 52 injured, 27 had bullet injuries, according to the fact-finding report of the NCHRO. However, this brutal incident was not covered much in the mainstream media, despite being the second-largest firing incident in the state.

In 2013, a documentary film ‘May 17 Beemapalli’ by Adv Hashir K Muhammed on the incident was released. “We decided to do the film as the incident and the issues were poorly covered by the mainstream media,” Adv Hashir told Twocircles.net. The first Muslim organisation to get involved with the issue was the SDPI, and then came the SIO for which Hashir directed the documentary. “It was a time when Kerala was discussing human rights issues, Irom Sharmila a lot, but there was nothing much about Beemapalli,” said Hashir.

Beemapalli – pic taken from www.dtpcthiruvananthapuram.com

Late Professor SAR Geelani, while speaking at the release of the documentary, had hinted towards the need for ‘a collective remembrance against selective amnesia’ in this and several other incidents.

Those who lost their lives on the day were – Seydali (24), Ahmedali (45), Abdul Hameed (27), Badusha (34), Abdul Ghani (55) and Firose (16).


For nearly 20 days after the incident, Section 144 was imposed in the area. There were several stories doing rounds in the media about the Beemapalli, about the unruliness of people there and recovery of bombs etc. Since the media could not enter the area, the truth could not be brought out too. While the mainstream media and police had reportedly tried to portray the issues leading to the police firing as communal clashes between the Muslims of Beemapalli and Christians of Cheriyathura, people accuse the police of inaction in controlling the goons of the area.

Muslim organisations formed a common platform to raise their voice against the police action and to ensure justice to the victims, but it soon fell out. A joint committee of the Beemapalli Masjid and the Cheriyathura Parish too was formed to reinstate peace and friendly relations in the area.

T Ishaq, a social activist based in nearby Poonthura, filed a petition at the Sessions Court against the police action four days after the incident. The court ordered for a probe to be conducted by the Crime Branch. Four policemen accused of being involved in the firing were suspended and later taken back. A Commission under Justice Ramakrishnan was appointed to enquire into the matter months after the incident. More than 40 parties were associated with the Commission, out of which only two were Muslim organizations – the Beemapalli Muslim Jamat and T Ishaq. The parties included several churches of Christians and certain Hindu groups etc.

“One and a half years later, I was informed by the court that the enquiry against the policemen was being closed due to lack of evidence. The two subsequent petitions that I filed too met with the same result,” said Ishaq.

Eleven Years On

Five days after the incident, the then state government led by the Left Democratic Front, with VS Achuthanandan as the Chief Minister and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as the Home Minister, decided to appoint a judicial commission to investigate the police firing, and subsequently, the sitting High Court judge Js Ramakrishnan was appointed. The investigation report of the Commission was submitted to the state government led by the United Democratic Front, with Oommen Chandy as the chief minister, on 4 January 2012. However, no action has been taken on the report yet nor has it been made public, even after eleven years.

The Crime Branch enquiry has not been completed yet. Owing to the accusations that explosives were found from the place, a special team of the CBI had come and searched the place but returned without finding anything concrete. The assistant commissioner of police who had led the firing back then has been conferred with the IAS.

Beemapalli Now

The people of Beemapalli are mainly fishermen folk living on the mercy of the sea. Their lives revolve around the Beemapalli (mosque named after Beema Beevi), the festivals and rituals associated with it and the small businesses around it. The people are generally not very educated and lead simple lives. However, there were also strong businesses of Gulf products and fake CDs of films (regional, national and international alike). Earlier, it was said, the community feeling was so strong that even the police could not enter the area and arrest any person, but had to resort to the help of the Beemapalli authorities who would hand over the person to the police if they found the police request deserving.

However, the brutal police firing has changed many things peculiar to Beemapalli. And along with it has changed the non-entry for the police too. Now the police can enter and pick up any person from the locality too.

While at least some media and Muslim organisations are now discussing and reminding Kerala of the brutality and injustice on its eleventh anniversary, the people of Beemapalli spent the day with just a prayer meeting at the mosque. The people still suffer the aftermath of the incident, with several men of the families disabled or amputated or unable to work properly due to the injuries.