Monday, April 24, 2006

Adieu Eachara Warrier brave hero and brave father

It is difficult to recognise true heroes amongst us. Prof. Eachara Warrier was one such person. This professor of Hindi from Kerala shook the conscience of the nation in 1977 when he took the help of the judiciary to try to find out what happened to his son Rajan, an engineering student from REC Calicut, who was picked up by the Kerala police. These were the dark days of the Emergency (1975-77) and it is said that Rajan had antagonised a politician by mocking him during a college function. What happened next is straight out of a nightmare. Rajan vanished. There were stories and rumours of torture and execution and secret cremation. His disappearance was a weapon to terrorise Kerala. Prof. Warrier continued to search for his son. He was told that there was no hope. But he refused to give up. The judiciary came to his help. The Rajan Case, as it is still known today, is perhaps the first human rights case which shook India. A court ruling forced K.Karunakaran to resign the chief ministership of Kerala. Inspite of all his efforts Prof. Warrier never saw the guilty being punished. It was as if everybody knew what happened but each one of us was too scared to talk about it. He even wrote a book titled Memories of a Father. The director Shaji Karun paid his tribute to Warrier when he made his debut film Piravi. It is about a father's search for his son who has vanished. A very moving film in which the father's character was palyed by the late Premji. A role which won him the national award for best acting. I remember meeting one of Premji's sons, an Army Colonel, some years ago. The details he gave me about Premji's life made me realise that not only did Premji play the role of a hero on celluloid he was a hero in real life too as he had defied many social conventions. It was also interesting meeting Sunny Joseph, who was Shaji's cameraman for Piravi, at the FTII Pune in 1991 and listening to him talk about Shaji's work with reference to this film. I also happened to once meet the son of a cop whose colleagues were those accused of having arrested and possibly killed Rajan. It gave me goosebumps listening to the story as told by a policeman's son. There was always unflinching admiration for Professor Warrier and the way he continued to fight undaunted by the pressures on him. I never met him during my infrequent visits to Kerala though I wanted to. But I was in awe of him. Very few people have the strength to take on the state and its apparatus.The 86 year old Professor Warrier may be no more but the way he fought will continue to inspire future generations.

I also read about the sad death of Ajit Lall, the father of the slain model Jessica Lall. Jessica Lall's mother died soon after her murder. Now her sister Sabrina who is spearheading the campaign for justice is the sole person left behind in this unfortunate family. But she fights on bravely. And it is her fight which has inspired Geetanjali Mattoo's father to also continue to fight for his daughter who was allegedly raped and killed by the son of a senior police official. The accused was reluctantly set free by a court becuase th prosecution is accused of having botched up the case. We also have the case of the late Nitish Katara's mother fighting to seek justice for her son who was murdered by the son of a politician. This accused person is also an accused in the Jessica case. A sad connection between two extremely sad and tragic cases.

A brief description of Shaji's film Piravi in cinemaof
Rajeev Srinivasan's article in rediff paying tribute to Prof. Warrier


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