The Kerala high court. (File Photo)

The Kerala high court on Friday stayed trial court proceedings in the 2018 lynching of a mentally disabled tribal man by a mob in Palakkad, which accused him of stealing food.

The court’s decision came on a plea filed by M Valli, mother of the victim, Madhu. She urged the court to stay the proceedings till the state government took a decision on her request to replace the special public prosecutor.

Valli, in her plea, contended that since the start of the trial in January this year, many of the 122 witnesses have turned hostile. She alleged that the special public prosecutor C Rajendran was not carrying out his job properly.

She has alleged that deliberate attempts were being made to weaken the case since some of the accused were linked to politicians in the state.

Madhu’s mother approached the HC after the Mannarkad special court rejected her plea seeking to replace Rajendran. The victim’s family has sought that additional special prosecutor Rajesh M Menon be handed the case.

Rajendran is the third public prosecutor handling the case after two senior lawyers opted out of the case.

While the first special public prosecutor appointed by the government refused to take up the case, the second prosecutor VT Raghunath stepped aside citing his poor health.

Seeking the view of the government on the case, the high court posted the case for June 27 for further consideration.

Madhu, 28, was allegedly beaten to death by a mob in Attappady area of the district on February 22, 2018. He was tied up to a tree and beaten by a mob, who caught him from a nearby forest, accusing him of stealing food.

Some of the accused also shared photos of themselves along with the victim.

His family, however, said that Madhu was mentally disabled, and used to live in a forest area in the district. He only ventured out to collect food items, his family said.

All of the 16 accused in the case are currently out on bail.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Madhu suffered serious internal injuries in the attack that eventually led to his death. The state police have submitted a 3,000-page charge sheet in the case.

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