Chicago IL: First time in the History of the Indian community in America, a crowd of more than 200 supporters gathered today outside at Daley Plaza, Chicago on July 29th, 2016 to show support and peacefully protest for the pending case of “Justice of Pravin”. This event was heavily publicized on social media platforms for 3 months after a few leaders from the US Indian community noticed that the case for Pravin Varughese was being unfairly handled by the authorities involved in 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 didn’t expect foul play and the difficult terrain and low temperatures were believed to have contributed to Pravin’s difficulty finding his way out of the wooded area. But the bruises on Pravin’s body that his mother and family found told a very grim story.
“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 of Pravin Varughese have been working tirelessly to get justice and the truth behind Pravin’s death. The unfairness and the falsified reports with innumerous accuracies and blatant attacks on Pravin’s character showed unfairness. With the help of community leaders from the US Indian Community in Chicago and this initiative by the Kerala Community in Chicago and around the US, bought together leaders and supporters to peacefully protest for the Justice of Pravin on July 29th, at Daley Plaza,
Organizers said, 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 on Pravin Varughese’s case. 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 Varughese 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 Varughese 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 officials unfairly covered up this case while the poor parents continued to look for answers to their dear son’s death.
Carbondale police on the other hand did not suspect foul play at the time of Pravin’s death and criminal charges were never filed. In Feb 2015, a Jackson County, IL grand jury determined there will be no criminal charges in the death of SIU-Carbondale student Pravin Varughese even though there was a dashcam evidence from an Illinois State Trooper with the suspect in the case on that fateful night. 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. You can read about some of the most recent findings on this case published by her on her Facebook page.
Under the leadership of Jiby Thomas Moloparambil, a community empowerment call was organized on June 30th, 2016 for the Indian/Kerala community to bring together individuals from across the nation to brainstorm ideas for next steps for this protest. About more than 500 individuals and personalities from different states across the US and India, joined the call to input their opinion and suggestions. For more info and for ways to get involved, please go to http://www.justiceforpravin.org