Oppn takes on Kerala govt over custodial death; CM says guilty won’t be spared
The alleged custodial death of a 49-year-old man in Kerala’s Idukki continues to embarrass the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state, a year after another died in similar circumstances in Thrissur.
Rajkumar, an accused in a money-laundering case, died in police custody last week and there were attempts to hush up the case as a natural death. The autopsy report later revealed shocking details of torture meted out to Rajkumar—four of his ribs were fractured and serious injuries were detected on the soles of his feet.
Besides the torture, his relatives said, he was also denied proper food and water.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday his government will take strict action against the police officials but an angry opposition created a ruckus in the legislative assembly and staged a walkout.
“No one has the right to keep a person in custody illegally and beat him to death. Such persons will no longer be there in the force. The government views the latest death seriously and we will take strict action against those responsible for this,” the CM said in the assembly while replying to an adjournment motion moved by the opposition.
A native of Idukki, Rajkumar was taken into custody on June 12, his widow said. But his arrest was recorded only on June 16, four days after his detention. He died on June 21 in Peermedu sub jail and his relatives were told about his death a day after.
Four police personnel, including two drivers, were suspended in connection with the case.
But the opposition said the action was taken against lower-level officials and seniors were spared. They also wanted the government to probe the alleged role of some district leaders of the CPI(M) and Idukki police superintendent.
“The CM, who also holds home portfolio, has given a free will to the police to kill people. There were many attempts to sabotage the case. More than a week has passed since his death not a single arrest is made in the case. We need a judicial probe into the case,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
Rajkumar’s widow and his mother called on the chief minister and sought an impartial probe. They deferred their sit-in plan after Pinarayi Vijayan assured them of help.
His relatives said he was just a collection agent of the fake chit fund involving Rs 3 crore and there were also conflicting reports about the money seized from him. His widow said many people were behind it and that he was “silenced” deliberately.
The CPI, the junior partner in the government, has criticised police excesses and sought action against the erring officials.