The Stolen Necklace review: Gripping tale of man trapped in broken system

It is based on the real-life story of Thajudheen, a man wrongly accused of robbery


What do you do when the people who you are meant to trust your life with, are scarier than the ones who are after your life? It is incredible how stubborn people can be, even when they are wrong. It is even more incredible how the vanguards of our legal system will not change their ways even after being called out. When they become a legal nightmare, one must resign to the fact that our democracy has lost its plot.

The Stolen Necklace chronicles the real-life story of V.K. Thajudheen – a man wrongly accused of robbery, and who had to endure 54 days in prison and, till today, has not been compensated for the mental, emotional, and physical trauma he was subjected to. The book has been jointly authored by Thajudheen and Shevlin Sebastian – a seasoned journalist who had been following the case from day one.

Law enforcement in India is notorious for being quick to mete out punishment. Pressure from higher authorities often makes it impossible for policemen to act impartially. But it is the ordinary bystander who suffers because of this. He becomes the pawn who must be sacrificed in order to close the case.

In this novel, the cops from Chakkarakkal, a small town in Kerala, accuse a man of chain-snatching, based on the evidence of a single CCTV screen grab. They seem to be hell-bent on not letting him go without a bribe. In a single moment, the life of the middle-aged father of three, with a newly-wedded daughter, is turned upside down. He becomes a criminal caught in the cross-hairs of bruised egos and unjust tactics.

In simple language, one is taken through the trials and tribulations of the protagonist. At the Thalassery prison, uncertainty and loneliness become constant companions. In a place where everyone is treated as sub-human, it is a struggle to maintain his humanity. As the days bleed into each other, memories become a less painful companion. “Every night ends in dawn” becomes a constant refrain, as Thajudheen vows never to give up, even as hope slowly starts dwindling.

The book provides rich insights and highlights other cases of the police wrongfully accusing innocent people, while the actual perpetrators go scot-free. The story does not end with Thajudheen being proved innocent before the law. The irreversible damage caused by the reckless investigation and brutal misuse of the law does not simply disappear in a few days. A man once convicted will live the rest of his life in fear, constantly looking over his shoulder. Everyone deserves justice, but when the system that is tasked with providing it is faulty, it ends up being an unattainable dream for many.

The Stolen Necklace

By Shevlin Sebastian and V.K. Thajudheen

Published by HarperCollins

Price Rs 399; pages 249

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