A killing jolted Kerala five years ago. Did it change anything?


In February 2018, an Adivasi man named Madhu, who lived in Kerala's Attappadi taluk, was lynched after being accused of being a thief. He was pronounced dead at a hospital where he was taken after being severely beaten by a mob.

Yesterday, a Kerala court convicted 14 of the accused for various crimes, including voluntarily causing hurt and unlawful assembly.

In the conversations surrounding the brutal crime and the trial, a related problem received less attention: that of the mental health of Attappadi's Adivasi community. One doctor explained that Madhu was particularly vulnerable because of his fragile mental state. Activists and health workers in the region also noted that there were several such vulnerable individuals in the region, who needed care and support.

For Common Ground, Ashfaque EJ travelled to Attappadi, to learn about government efforts to tackle the mental health crisis in the region. He found that while some efforts had yielded results, others had snagged on poor execution. Some scholars and activists, however, argued that such efforts were hampered by flawed foundations. As one wrote, they failed “to locate mental health problems in the broader spectrum of personal, social, political, and economic lives”.

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Ajay Krishnan
Senior Editor

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