‘Justice for Pravin’ rally at Daley Plaza

Participants at the protest rally at Daley Plaza, Chicago

Participants at the protest rally at Daley Plaza, Chicago

CHICAGO: A group of more than 200 justice seekers gathered outside Daley Plaza, Chicago on July 29 for a peaceful protest seeking fair disposal of case involving Pravin Varughese. The rally “Justice for Pravin” was heavily publicized on social media for three months. It was noticed that the case for Pravin Varughese was being unfairly handled by the authorities addressing the case.

Pravin Varughese was a 19 year old bright kid from the Chicago suburbs, who went to SIU Carbondale University to study Criminal Justice. He went missing the night of Feb 12, 2014 on his way back home from a party with his cousins. He went missing for a week and was found deceased in a wooded area in Carbondale.

The police said they did not suspect foul play. The difficult terrain and low temperatures could be contributory factors making it difficult for Pravin finding his way out of the wooded area. But the bruises on Pravin’s body that his mother and family found were indicative of a very grim story, say rally participants

“Pravin Action Council” was formed in 2014 to assist the family in seeking justice. In July 2016, the first winner of Pravin Varughese Memorial Scholarship was announced on Facebook. It is a $1000 scholarship for a high school senior intending to pursue a degree in Criminal justice or law. “Pravin Action Council” is headed by Mariamma Pillai and Gladson Varghese, both community leaders from Chicago.

For the past two years, the family and friends have been working tirelessly to get justice and the truth behind Pravin’s death. The falsified reports with innumerous accuracies and blatant attacks on Pravin’s character showed unfairness, they say. With the help of leaders from the Indian community in Chicago and this initiative by the Kerala community across the US, leaders and supporters gathered for a peacefully protest for Justice to Pravin on July 29, at Daley Plaza, Chicago from 1:30 to 3:30.

The main goal of this protest was to get rightful attention of the officials such as Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan as well as the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner in this matter. They are the officials who can take action on the investigators and officials of the Carbondale Police Dept., the Illinois State Police and Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr whose conclusion and claim did not present key evidence in this case.

Michael Carr’s report did not say that the toxicology report was negative even though a toxicology report conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. James Jacobi showed Pravin had no drugs in his system and no alcohol other than ethanol produced during post-mortem bodily changes. Again, the family commissioned a second autopsy that was performed by Dr. Ben Margolis of the Autopsy Center of Chicago in February of 2014.

Margolis found multiple deep bruises on the forehead and right arm of Pravin and determined blunt-force trauma was an underlying cause of death. The findings in the second autopsy were not shown to the grand jury. The family representatives strongly believe that the grand jury did not receive all the relevant information from the officials in this case.

For over the last two years, Monica Zukas, a radio host/media personality from Carbondale has helped the family by sharing a lot of pertinent information to the public on this case on her Facebook page.

Under the leadership of Jiby Thomas Moloparambil, a community empowerment call was organized on June 30 for the Indian/Kerala community to bring together individuals from across the nation to brainstorm ideas for next steps for this protest. More than 500 individuals and personalities from different states across the US and India, joined the call to input their opinion and suggestions.

The community standing together should be the beginning to get ‘Justice for Pravin’, organizers of the protest rally said.