Agali (Palakkad): A tribal youth, accused of theft, was beaten to death by people at Kadukumanna in Attappadi on Thursday evening. The deceased was identified as Madhu, 35, a resident of Kadukumanna tribal hamlet.
The local people allegedly handed him over to the Agali police around 6.30 pm on Thursday after beating him up severely using sticks.
The police said the youth collapsed and died inside the police jeep when they were taking him to Government Tribal Specialty Hospital at Kottathara.
Madhu, son of Mallan of Attappadi Kadukumanna tribal hamlet, was stopped by locals on Thursday afternoon when they saw him near the forest boundary at Mukkali carrying a bag of rice.
There have been instances of theft of food items from shops in and around Thavalam and Mukkali. CCTV cameras had captured the image of the thief. Locals stopped Madhu as he looked similar to the man in the CCTV footage.
The mob, accusing him of stealing the rice and valuables from a nearby place, had beaten him severely before handing him over to police. Some of them also took photos of the incident and shared it on social media. These posts have created a furore on social media with actor Joy Mathew and tribal activist C K Janu urging the government to take stern action against the culprits.
The police, taking custody of the youth, rushed him to a hospital after he started vomiting in the police vehicle. He was later pronounced dead at the Agali Government Hospital.
His body is kept at the hospital morgue and an autopsy will be carried out on Friday.
The police have registered an attempt-to-murder case against 15 people.
On the basis of the autopsy report, more relevant sections would be applied, the police said.
The police said Madhu was mentally challenged and used to stay in the forest occasionally. He maintained no contact with his family.
DySP T K Subramanyan said that the police would take stringent action against those responsible for the death of the youth.
CM condemns youth's death
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday condemned the incident. He said he had directed the state police chief to take stern action against the culprits.
"Such violences are not acceptable for a civilized society. It will tarnish the image of Kerala, which boasts of advancements in social and cultural spectrum," he said in a Facebook post.
The chief minister also said the government will take necessary steps to prevent such incidents in future.
Hartal in Mannarkkad taluk
Blaming the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) for the growing atrocities against the tribal community, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Mannarkkad taluk on Saturday.
Demanding the arrest of all the accused, the BJP district president E Krishnadas said the incident highlighted the sad state of affairs in Attappadi. He also pointed out that the three panchayats in the region were governed by the LDF.