INDIA: Professor T. V. Eachara Varier, the symbol of perseverance and fearlessness passed away

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) notes with grief the death of Professor T. V. Eachara Varier who passed away on 13 April 2006. Professor Varier has left the legacy of a consistent fight of a father to find justice against the state for the disappearance of his son during the infamous Emergency in India from 1976 – 77. Professor Varier is the father of Rajan who was arrested by the Kerala police and later reported to have disappeared during the Emergency.

Rajan, a student of engineering at the Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode – Kerala State was arrested by the local police on 29 February 1976 and was never to be seen again. It is believed that Rajan who was arrested on mistaken identity was taken to Kakkayam Police Camp in Kerala and was tortured to death. The local police and the state administration denied the arrest and any role in Rajan’s disappearance. However, Professor Varier boldly pursued his son’s disappearance, which was unimaginable during the period since anyone who challenged the police and the state administration during the Emergency would risk dire consequences.

The tragedy of the father and the son reflects the contradictions of the Indian democracy. Rajan’s death and the state’s failure to render justice reflects many unfinished tasks in India. The continuous failure of the justice system of India to deal with the utter brutality of the Indian police that ruined the life of this family continues to ruin many others.

Mr. Pulikodan Narayanan, a former Sub-Inspector who was later promoted to the rank of Deputy Superintendent, the police officer who was responsible for Rajan’s disappearance is still alive and the state has failed to compel him to reveal the details to the persevering father who continued to demand for the facts which lead to his son’s disappearance. The inability to develop democratic control over the policing system in India remains the greatest challenge to be resolved by the Indian democracy.

The inquiry, and later the case, filed by Professor Varier eventually resulted in the resignation of the then Home Minister. The case was decided implicating the state police and the administration for their atrocities during the Emergency and the case, more known as the ‘Rajan case’ was the beginning.

Professor Varier’s courageous attempt was not limited to find the truth of his son’s disappearance, but also of those behind the death and disappearance of various others in similar situation during the Emergency. This also paved way to open up a new and bold discussion on police torture and custodial violence in India.

Professor Varier later wrote his memoirs, originally in Malayalam, which was later translated and published in English, Thai and Nepalese.* Professor Varier was also a known human rights activist in Kerala and was the symbol of perseverance and fearlessness on human rights issues in India, and of cases on police torture in particular. Custodial violence continues in India and in many Asian countries. This makes the public debate pioneered by Professor Varier relevant in the Asian context and Rajan case a reference in similar instances.

Driven by tragedy, Professor Varier proved to be a person absolutely committed to freedom. His struggle is one of the many lessons the coming generations of Indians need to learn if India trails to its destiny as a democracy. The heroic struggle of this father needs to be celebrated for pointing to the direction in which the true freedom of India rests. It is the fundamental reformation of the India’s police and its judiciary to be capable of holding the police accountable before justice.

The AHRC considers itself to be privileged to have associated with Professor Varier to translate and publish his work, thereby spreading the message of Professor Varier to the world community.

To quote Professor Varier from the Memories of a Father:

It was an odyssey from then on, begging for the alms of human awareness and compassion… The hunters are continuing the hunt. The victims are begging for life with folded hands…The struggle against such brutalities had to begin with Kakkayam Camp after the Emergency. I should not leave the new generation to that wooden bench and the rolling.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-067-2006
Countries : India,