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For the past four years, Malli has learned to be vigilant of shadows and strangers. The 68-year-old from Pazhayoor, a remote tribal hamlet in Kerala’s Palakkad district, has been tirelessly fighting for justice for her son, despite numerous threats to drop the case against the accused.

After returning from a trip to the special court at Mannarkkad, where the trial is ongoing, Malli faced another challenge in Kochi, where she dealt with an anticipatory bail plea in the High Court filed by someone who allegedly threatened her regarding her son’s murder case.

The case that shocked Kerala society occurred on February 22, 2018, when Malli’s son Madhu was beaten to death by a mob that accused him of stealing rice and curry powder. Despite the incident being captured on video and handed over to the police, Madhu died on the way to the hospital.

The trial for the case faced delays and setbacks, including prosecution lawyers pulling out, witnesses turning hostile, and influential accused violating bail conditions. The cancellation of bail provided little comfort to Malli, who continues to face threats from influential people in her community.

Malli has faced trespassing and threats at her home, and she lives in constant fear for her safety, especially when she is alone with poor mobile network coverage in her area.

Despite facing opposition from her own tribal community, Malli’s family continues to fight for justice, with her daughter Chandrika working as a police constable and her daughter-in-law Murugan employed by the government’s statistics department.

Malli’s family has been accused of having enough money to share with the community, and they have faced demands for money in exchange for supporting their case.

Despite the challenges, Malli and her daughter Sarasu have been dedicated to attending the court proceedings every day, traveling 25 km to ensure they are present.

Malli has not hesitated to seek the removal of a special prosecutor and to meet with high-ranking officials, including the Union Home Minister, to seek justice for her son.

The delay in the trial has allowed the accused to influence witnesses, but Malli remains determined to fight for justice, willing to travel anywhere and meet with anyone to ensure her son’s case is on track.

Shaju Philip covers Kerala for The Indian Express…

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