Two policemen arrested in Kerala custodial death case
Two policemen, including a sub-inspector, were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the alleged death of a man in police custody last month in Kerala’s Idukki, officials said.
Crime branch officials arrested sub-inspector KA Sabu and civil police officer Sajeev Antony after two days of questioning.
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 49-year-old 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.
Rajkumar’s widow said the arrests of two junior-level officers weren’t enough and that she will move the court for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Officials said the statements of colleagues, who reportedly testified to the prolonged torture and interrogation of Rajkumar in police custody, led to the arrest of the two men.
Shocking details of Rajkumar’s torture have come out, including applying of chilly powder on his private parts. During investigation officials also stumbled upon attempts by local police officers to destroy evidence and fudge records. CCTV cameras in the police station were also switched off.
Rajkumar was taken into custody on June 12 in connection with a fake chit fund case, his widow said. But the Idukki resident’s 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.
The alleged custodial death has invited much embarrassment to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state, a year after another man died in similar circumstances in Thrissur.
Though chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the home ministry, promised strict action, the opposition said there were attempts to weaken the case and action was taken against lower-level officials and seniors were spared.
The CPI, the junior partner in the government, has also criticised police excesses and sought action against the erring officials.
The Congress-led opposition wanted the government to probe the alleged role of some district leaders of the CPI(M) and Idukki police superintendent KB Venugopal.
“The arrest of two lower-level officials is a gimmick to cool tempers. We want a judicial inquiry to unravel the truth,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.