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Facebook revolutionaries breach jail walls

- Red faces in Cong, CPM as pages of undertrials accused of murdering Marxist rebel are updated regularly
A Facebook update attributed to Annan Sijith, sharing a post by former Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishan, on the CPM state plenum that concluded in Palakkad last week. The bust at the entrance to the plenum venue is that of Che Guevara with the inscription, “the legend of the revolution”
Annan who?
Annan Sijith, an accused in the murder of rebel Marxist T.P. Chandrasekharan
Facebook update:
November 27, 2013
Annan’s real-world status:
In the district jail in Kozhikode, northern Kerala, since August 2012

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec. 3: The families, friends and well-wishers of an alleged hit squad accused of murdering a rebel Marxist need not queue up before dreaded prison gates for updates on the status of the undertrials.

They just need to view Facebook pages, six of which have been updated regularly with uploads from what looks like the premises of a district jail in northern Kerala.

Malayalam television channels beamed the Facebook pages on Monday, exposing fresh fissures in the ruling Congress-led UDF, putting under the scanner the correctional system and bringing back into focus a murder that stunned the state and embarrassed the Opposition CPM.

An embarrassed police are yet to confirm whether the uploaded pictures were indeed taken inside the jail, although the backdrop in some images resemble parts of the Kozhikode district jail where six members of the alleged hit squad are lodged now.

Some CPM leaders suggested that the accounts may have been hacked from outside or updated by friends and family but other sources said the use of smartphones that can update Facebook accounts was rampant in many prisons.

The undertrials’ Facebook walls are plastered with regular updates, with pictures apparently taken with smuggled smartphones showing them in colourful clothes that flout the jail dress code.

Another post on Manoj Kirmani’s Facebook page. Kirmani (arrow 1) is standing next to Kodi Suni (arrow 2)
Kodi who?
Kodi Suni alias Sunil Kumar, who allegedly led the hit squad that carried out the murder
Facebook post:
November 10
Sunil’s real-world status:
In the Kozhikode jail since August 2012

The TV channels said the prisoners made about a thousand calls from two numbers, raising fears of witnesses being intimidated or influenced.

Yet continuing searches by jail wardens since the channel broke the scandal on Monday have found nothing, suggesting prison security may have helped hide the gadgets.

The latest controversy has deepened the faction fight in the ruling Congress. One lobby has accused home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan of going soft on the accused in a quid pro quo for the CPM lowering its pitch in the solar panel scam haunting chief minister Oommen Chandy.

The six men, accused of lynching breakaway CPM leader T.P. Chandrasekharan in May last year, have been at the Kozhikode district jail since August 2012.

Chandrasekharan, former CPM leader in Onchiyam in Palakkad district, had dared the Marxists by launching a new group, the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP), in what was a CPM stronghold. The CPM has denied any links with the six undertrials who hail from party bastions.

Onam celebrations on premises that resemble that of the Kozhikode jail, posted on Facebook via mobile phone. The crowned character is playing Mahabali, the mythical king who revisits his subjects during the festival each year. Holding the king’s umbrella is Manoj Kirmani.
Manoj who?
Manoj Kirmani, another accused in the murder case
Facebook post:
September 14
Manoj’s real-world status:
In the Kozhikode jail since August 2012

Several people have been arrested in the murder case. But, mysteriously, the probe has not yet touched upon on the conspiracy and has confined itself to tracking down those who carried out the strike.

Chandrasekharan’s wife K.K. Rema, who claims senior CPM leaders were involved, led an RMP march to the jail yesterday demanding action against guilty officials.

A scroll though the Facebook pages of the undertrials showed that many of them had logged in even on December 1 and posted messages hailing the CPM, its youth wing DYFI, and party leaders.

Kodi Suni alias Sunil Kumar, who allegedly led the hit squad, last updated his profile on November 28, sharing a picture posted by a Gulf-based friend and conveying his good wishes for last week’s CPM plenum in Palakkad.

The most sinister aspect, however, are the hundreds of calls the undertrials allegedly made, considering that some 50 witnesses in the case have turned hostile, leading to acquittals for 20 of the 76 accused on September 11.

Birthday greetings on the Facebook page of Mohd Shafi
Shafi who?
Mohd Shafi, another alleged member of the hit squad
Facebook post:
November 10
Shafi’s real-world status:
In the Kozhikode jail since August 2012

Alexander Jacob, the director-general of police (prisons), asked a local court today for permission to transfer five of the accused to the Thiruvananthapuram Central Jail. The court will consider the plea tomorrow.

The jail department has ordered the transfer of 28 officials, including the assistant jailer.

An embarrassed state government has been running for cover. Chandy told reporters yesterday that he didn’t know exactly what had happened and added: “This may be important to you, but I have more important things to do.”

K. Sudhakaran, Congress MP from Kannur who belongs to Chandy’s rival faction, has called for home minister Radhakrishnan to be removed. Chandy has ruled out any portfolio shuffle while Radhakrishnan has accused his party critics of eyeing power.

The home department had earlier come under fire when another key accused in the case, P. Mohanan, a member of the CPM’s Kozhikode district secretariat, was allowed to lunch in a restaurant with wife K.K. Lathika, an MLA, on his way back to jail from court on November 8.

Mullappally Ramachandran, Union minister of state for home, has asked the state home department to pay more attention to the violation of jail rules and repeated his demand for a CBI probe into the murder conspiracy.