The tale of two Kerala brothers and their search to find their father's killer

In December 2011, Jose C Kappan, a plantation owner at Shivamogga Sagar Kerodi in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, went missing from the plantation and later found murdered
Representational Image
Representational Image

Even after waiting for months, the police were not able to track the hiding accused. This forced Sajith J Kappen and Ranji J Kappen to start a search by themselves to track their father’s killer despite the court finding the accused guilty of killing their father. After months of desperate search, the siblings were able to find Siju Kurien, a native of Palakkad, who went missing after being sentenced to life imprisonment by the Karnataka High Court for murdering Jose C Kappen.

Jose was the owner of a plantation at Shivamogga Sagar Kerodi in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. In December 2011, he went missing from the plantation. Following the investigation, the police arrested Siju, who was a worker at Jose’s plantation. He testified that Jose was killed using a machete and then buried in a compost pit. Siju had told those looking for Jose that he had gone to Kerala. Even the witnesses told the High Court that Siju informed them that Jose went to the United States and later died suffering from a disease.

However, the prosecution could not produce any evidence before the trial court that Siju had committed the murder. Following this, the court acquitted Siju on August 8, 2013. However, the public prosecutor had recommended an appeal in the High Court against the verdict. Later, the High Court observed that the body was found based on the statement of the accused.

Following a legal battle, finally, in March 2020, the High Court convicted Siju for his involvement in the murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000. However, in the meantime, Siju escaped from Karnataka.

The siblings' desperate search

The victim, Jose C Kappen’s children - Sajith J Kappen and Ranji J Kappen, wanted to jail their father's killer and decided to search for the culprit.

According to reports, two days after reaching the plantation, Jose’s murder took place. When the family last saw Jose alive, he had discussed about a new employee, who is a native of Attappady. When the family came to know of Siju's escape from Karnataka, the siblings decided to conduct a search in Attappady. They were new to Attappady, but that did not affect their spirit.

They were able to trace their acquaintance, who had migrated to Attappady from Idukki long back. He offered to help them after understanding their purpose. He even got another man’s number, who knows the area pretty well.

Sajith had a picture of Siju, which was taken when he reached the court in 2011. Following the search, they found out that Siju was staying in a shed at the back of B R Ambedkar Training College, Attappady.

The news was a ray of hope for Sajith and Ranji as they started their journey to Attappady. The area was nearly 15 km from the Agali police station. Siju was working in a banana plantation, which was taken on lease and was leading an isolated life. When the brothers contacted the Attappady police, the officers shared the contact of a Special Branch officer.

The police informed that Siju was recently involved in an arrack case. The officer even remembered the image of Siju that came along with the murder news. The officer, who had been following Siju for quite some time, reached Attappady to help Sajith and Ranji. The officer was well aware of Siju’s house and surroundings.

On January 8, 2021, along with the Karnataka police and Agali police, Sajith and Ranji reached the premise of Siju’s house. They had no clue whether Siju was present there or not. However, they decided to wait and catch him once he steps out of the house. The team was unable to see if the scooter used by Siju was there outside his house due to the darkness.

At around 5 am, two civil police officers again reached Siju’s house. After some time, they got a message that the scooter was right there in front of the house. The team rushed to the place and settled around Siju's house.

They waited for him till 8:30, but he didn’t step out. The team got a bit closer to Siju’s house without knowing that Siju was raising a dog. He stepped out as soon as he heard the dog’s bark. After a fight, the police were able to catch Siju. The only thing that Sajith wanted to know was whether his father was murdered on December 2, the memorial day of Jose’s death. To the question, Siju replied yes. He was later handed over to Karnataka police.

It was their determination that helped these siblings to fight for justice and they made sure it was served.

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