Hindus of Kerala can remember May 2, 2003, only with blood in their eyes, rather than tears. It was on that fateful night that eight Hindu fishermen were butchered in Marad beach in Kozhikode. It was part of an Islamic game-plan to rid Kerala’s coast of Hindu population, a conspiracy to bring entire Kerala coastline under Jihadi control for anti-national activities.
The judicial commission headed by Justice Thomas P Joseph that probed the incident concluded that the Muslim fundamentalists were directly involved in both the conspiracy and execution of the massacre. The commission affirmed, "a clear communal conspiracy, with Muslim fundamentalist organisations involved". The courts sentenced 62 Muslims to life imprisonment for committing the massacre in 2009 – most of whom belonged to the Indian Union Muslim League, Communist Party of India (Marxist), People's Democratic Party, and National Development Front (now Popular Front of India).
The terrorists also threw bombs with the intention of afflicting more deaths, but did not explode. A large cache of swords, knives and bombs were stored in the neighbouring mosque and were later seized by the police. This stock was found to be kept ready as a reserve for a mass massacre, which did not happen in the event of police intrusion.
The anti-Hindu riots and the brutal massacre were aimed at exterminating the Hindu population living in the region, driving the local residents out of the Marad beach and turning it into a Muslim majority area.
On 2 May 2003, in the early evening, eight Hindus were hacked to death by a Muslim mob on the beach after reeling in their catch for the day. The killers then escaped into the local Juma Masjid, the Marad enquiry commission's (Justice Thomas P Joseph) report notes the submission of then Kozhikode Police Commissioner T K Vinod Kumar that hundreds of local Muslim women converged on the mosque to prevent the police from entering it to catch the attackers.
Later, the government troops unearthed a huge cache of weapons including 17 bombs. The police commissioner, TK Vinod Kumar stated: "It was an operation carried out by a well-knit organization. It was a quick and sudden attack which was over in 10 minutes. The attack came from a particular community."
There were persistent demands for a judicial enquiry in the matter, in pursuance whereto, the then UDF government had appointed Thomas P. Joseph (District & Sessions Judge) as the Commission of Inquiry. He had submitted his report during February 2006 and the LDF ministry tabled the report during September 2006. The report had elucidated that a person known as "F.M." (Finance Minister) had funded for the massacre and also cast aspersions on various political parties and the government officials including the District Collector T. O. Sooraj. A person named Hilal Mohammed (F.M. who was handling the smuggling of counterfeit goods at Calicut Airport) too has filed a petition demanding a probe into his alleged involvement in the matter. Both these petitions were filed through Advocate S. K. Premraj. During the hearing, Advocate Premraj submitted that Hilal Mohammed's life is under imminent threat. The role of Indian Union Muslim Leader P. P. Modieen Koya and Mayin Haji (then chairman Kozhikode Development Authority) was also highlighted in the report. The commission also recommends a further inquiry, involving the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about the involvement of foreign agencies in the riots.
The commission has taken a serious note of the deposition of state DGP K J Joseph, that the then Assistant Commissioner of Police (Kozhikode) Abdul Rahim "failed to investigate and take prompt action in Marad.'’ The DGP deposed that Rahim not only '‘hid the truth from his superior officers'’ but also tried to establish that the key accused in the massacre on the beach on 2 May 2003 were not guilty.
A special court in Kozhikode on 15 January 2009 sentenced 62 of the 63 convicts to life in the Marad carnage case. There were a total of 139 accused in the case. In December 2008, additional sessions Judge Babu Mathew P Joseph convicted 62 people for murder while a person was found guilty of abetment. The rest were acquitted of all charges.
Key findings of Justice Thomas P Joseph Commission
"The patrolling and search for weapons said to be made by the local police were not effective or purposeful. To put shortly, the local police was lethargic in their attitude towards the situation at Marad Beach." (chapter 5, section 37)
"It was unfortunate that the household items were damaged at Marad Beach in the presence of police"(chapter 5, section 42)
Coming in for strong indictment is then Kozhikode District Collector T O Sooraj Mohamed, currently director of Industries for colluding with Muslim League leadership in covering up facts. The commission has observed that allegations that the Collector was a communalist cannot be dismissed as untrue. The Collector had taken custody of the mosque from where the police had seized lethal weapons. But, the commission noted, he allowed Muslim League leader E Ahmed, then an MP and former Minister of State for External Affairs, to enter the mosque (The local Juma Masjid mentioned earlier in the article) and offer prayers, even as an explosive situation prevailed in the area.
The then Chief Minister A.K.Antony and the then industries minister and top Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader P.K. Kunhalikutty opposed any CBI probe into the massacre.
The report mentions the role of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the National Development Front (NDF). IUML leaders like C. Mayin Haji and P.P. Moideen Koya were named to be aware of the conspiracy beforehand.