Friday, April 14, 2006

obituary: prof. eachara warrier

apr 13th

this man was a warrior, an unsung hero. he showed the power of one lone individual, a wronged father, and he stood up against the might of the State and the congress party.

prof. warrier's son, rajan, a student of the regional engineering college, calicut, 'disappeared' during the emergency, in 1976 or 1977. he was whisked away from the college one night and never seen again. it is presumed that he was murdered in police custody, one among so many other 'disappeareds'. based on other jailed students' testimony, it is believed that rajan was tortured to death.

eachara warrier went looking for his son, and nobody would tell him what happened to him.

most fathers would have given up before the stonewalling of the State. but eachara warrier never did. he doggedly pursued the case in the courts, demanding that the police and the State produce his son. his habeas corpus petition finally brought down k karunakaran, the then home minister and later chief minister. a number of policemen lost their jobs, and despite denying any wrongdoing, the kerala government finally was told by the courts to give compensation to eachara warrier.

eachara warrier did not 'go gentle into that good night.' after 30 years of struggle, he passed away on april 13th. most appropriately, on martyrs' day, the day of the jallianwallah bagh massacre. it goes to show, we have exchanged one set of colonial masters for another set, that is about all 'independence' has achieved.

eachara warrier's story was the basis of shaji karun's 'piravi', the stunning malayalam film that is one of the most powerful i have ever seen. this is the only film that i have seen that affected me to the point of tears -- for the old man's plight moved me tremendously. he was hanging on in quiet desperation.

farewell, brave warrior! you were a hero to me.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=KOCHI&file_name=KOCHI1%2Etxt&counter_img=1

Eachara Warrier dies

Pioneer News Service / Thrissur

Professor TV Eachara Warrier, 86, father of engineering student Rajan who died in police custody during the Emergency, passed away at a private hospital on Thursday.

Prof Warrier, who fought a relentless three-decade legal and social war to find out the truth behind his son's disappearance, was admitted to the hospital four days ago following respiratory complaints. His condition turned critical on Wednesday night.

His mortal remains were cremated at the ancestral place in Thiruvullakavu near Thrissur on Thursday evening. He is survived by two daughters Rema and Chandini. Hundreds of persons from all walks of life paid tributes to Prof Warrier.

Prof Warrier's 30-year-long fight against the Establishment, which would never reveal the truth about his son's disappearance, has been described as the symbolising all fights for justice that had taken place in Kerala during the period.

His son Rajan, a student of the Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode, was picked up by the police for alleged Naxal connections. He was taken to the Kakkyam police camp from where he never returned. He was allegedly tortured and murdered, but what happened to his body remains a mystery till today.

But the police and the Government maintained that Rajan was never taken into custody despite proof to the contrary. K Karunakaran was the Home Minister during the Emergency when Rajan disappeared. Prof Warrier's legal battle after his son's disappearance led to the resignation of Mr Karunakaran as Chief Minister in 1977.

Prof Warrier was born on October 28 at Cherpu in Thrissur district. He taught Hindi at many institutions including St Thomas College, Thrissur, Maharajas College, Ernakulam and Government College, Chittoor.

His wife Radha Warassiar lived 25 years after Rajan's disappearance but was never the same again.

During the last Lok Sabha elections, Prof Warrier had filed a defamatory suit against Mr Karunakaran's daughter and UDF candidate Padmaja Venugopal for some of her remarks on Rajan which had hurt his feelings.

Prof Warrier turned critical of the CPI(M) when there was a move by the party to strike a poll deal with the DIC(K) led by Mr Karunakaran. The agony of a father who never knew what happened to his son even after so many legal battles including those for habeas corpus prompted him to write a book Memories of a Father. Many movies had also been made about the Rajan incident.

6 comments:

xmatrix said...

Very moving. Thanks for posting this.

nizhal yoddha said...

a review of the film 'piravi' (the birth). quite possibly the finest film from india in a couple of decades.

http://www.upperstall.com/films/piravi.html

i interviewed shaji karun, the director, at the 1989 san francisco international film festival, where the film was shown. i cant find the interview, but it was on rediff.

premji's acting, and the cinematography, were outstanding. no other film has captured the kerala landscape in the rains like this one.

pennathur said...

Rajeev,

The actor who played the part of the father in that movie is himself known to have belonged to a family of social reformers and is arguably the finest "character actor" (or gunachitra nadigar as we say in Tamizh) of our times.

sanb said...

No police official lost their jobs in this case.

Jayaram Padikkal, the master criminal in police uniform who was the IGP (and chief inquisitor) at the time retired as DGP. Pulikodan Narayanan, SI and one of Padikkal's henchmen who was in charge of torturing Rajan retired as DySP recently. Lakshmana who was Kozhikode (Calicut) SP at the time later retired as IGP. Circle Inspector Sreedharan who kidnapped Rajan from the REC was never charged, he was one of the witnesses.

What was most egregious about this case was Rajan's crime was his name. Naxalites had attacked a police station previously and the police couldn't find one Rajan involved in the crime. So Padikkal ordered every Rajan in the area to be picked up and Rajan of the REC who had just returned after a youth festival (and couldn't have participated in the police attack unless he had mastered multilocation presence) was swept up in this "Rajan" sweep.

What was even more egregious was that C Achutha Menon the cheif minister at the time was personally known to Prof Eachara Warrier (in fact Prof Warrier was a communist and had hid Achutha Menon from police before independence) did nothing and apparently mocked Eachara Warrier when he approached Menon for help. Menon was mortally afraid of Karunakaran and his goon squad. Of course, Achutha Menon was one of the "Great Leaders" of Indian communism.

nizhal yoddha said...

interesting info, sanb. i could have sworn that jayaram padikkal and others had been dishonorably discharged.

also, the achutha menon angle is new. i thought it was karunakaran who owed a debt of gratitude to prof eachara warrier's family. in 'piravi', the minister is shown as having been beholden to the warrier family.

if this is what the communists do to other communists, you can imagine what they do to others.

furthermore, it was poor rajan's and poor prof. warrier's misfortune that they were not mohammedans or christists. if they were, the machinery of the state would have stepped in in full force, and all the 'human-rights' banshees would have been wailing in unison until the courts stepped in and sacrificed some innocents.

hindus -- oh, they have no rights. it is their job to die.

xmatrix said...

More information on the memories of a father is available at http://www.ahrchk.net/pub/mainfile.php/mof/186/