Kerala Custodial Death Case: Two Police Officers Arrested

The arrested officials have apparently admitted to torturing Rajkumar, the accused in a fraud case, who died on June 21.

New Delhi: Two policemen were arrested by the Crime Branch special team inquiring into the custodial torture death case of Rajkumar in Idukki, Kerala.

Rajkumar, a 49-year-old remand prisoner in a financial fraud case, was apparently tortured in the Nedumkandam police station between June 12 and June 15. The arrested officers have been identified as former Nedumkandam SI K.A. Sabu and civil police officer Sajeev Antony.

Crime Branch sources told The News Minute that the arrested officials have admitted to torturing Rajkumar. The duo apparently tortured the prisoner to recover the money he had obtained through fradu. Rajkumar is accused of cheating 34 self-help groups.

The special team has already found that policemen in the station rubbed Kantari mulagu (a type of chilli) on Rajkumar’s private parts. The autopsy report revealed that four of his ribs were fractured, apart from his sternum. “Contusions detected on the soles of his feet indicate that Rajkumar was subjected to the infamous Falanga torture which involves continuously beating the soles of the victim’s feet,” a report said.

The police also did not allow Rajkumar to sleep during the four days he was in custody.

Though he was picked up on June 12, the police recorded his arrest only on June 16. Rajkumar was produced before a magisterial court on June 15 and the local court ordered a three-day remand. He was admitted to a hospital at Peermedu on June 21 and died on the same day.

High court intervenes

After his death, the state government formed a seven-member Crime Branch team and took disciplinary action against police personnel. Eight policemen of the Nedumkandam police station were suspended and five others transferred.

The Kerala high court has also intervened, ordering a probe against Reshmi Raveendran, the Idukki magistrate who remanded Rajkumar. The court questioned why he was remanded despite being in an extremely weak condition and sought a report from the magistrate.

Also Read: We Must Recognise That Discrimination Plays a Large Role in Custodial Torture

The opposition has cranked up the pressure on the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. While some members sought a judicial probe into the incident, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said this was the fifth alleged case of custodial death recorded since Pinarayi Vijayan became the chief minister.

“The police will always protect the police. This is a brutal killing. In a similar case of custodial death, police officials have been reinstated and one of them was even promoted,” he said.

The chief minister assured strict action would be initiated against the police. “No one will be spared if found guilty. There is no place for such personnel in the police force,” Vijayan said. “No one has the right to beat up or kill people in custody.”

Another person alleges custodial torture

A man who was summoned by the Nedumkandam police on June 15 also claimed that he was tortured. He was in custody at the same time as Rajkumar, and said he was beaten up by the police. Hakkim, an accused in a family dispute case, said he could also hear screams (purportedly of Rajkumar) from the lockup.

“Police summoned [me] to the station and beat me after initiating a medical assessment. During the torture I was holding on to a grill. And they continued beating, saying the grill was bend (sic) because of me,” he was quoted as saying by Mathrubhumi. He said the police threatened to file a non-bailable case if he did not didn’t repair the bars. “My mother had to then get it repaired,” Hakkim said.

He was released after being held for 16 days, and is undergoing treatment in a hospital.