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TN: Court orders re-postmortem of youth who died after release from police custody

In her plea before the court, Manikandan’s mother Ramalakshmi claimed that her son died as a result of brutal police torture. She said the post-mortem was not conducted properly and sought a fresh one. Further, the petitioner claimed that the police released only two minutes of CCTV footage of the enquiry.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: December 8, 2021 8:55:21 am
Manikandan, who was pursuing an undergraduate course at a private college in Kamuthi, was detained by the police during a vehicle check in on the Paramakudi-Keezhathoroval road in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district on the evening of Dec 4. (Express)

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the re-postmortem of L Manikandan, a 21-year-old man who died a day after he was released from police custody.

In her plea before the court, Manikandan’s mother Ramalakshmi claimed that her son died as a result of brutal police torture. She said the post-mortem was not conducted properly and sought a fresh one. Further, the petitioner claimed that the police released only two minutes of CCTV footage of the enquiry.

Hearing the plea, Justice GR Swaminathan ordered the re-postmortem at the Ramanathapuram Government Hospital. Further, he directed for video recording of the entire procedure and instructed police to ensure there that law and order is maintained.

Manikandan, who was pursuing an undergraduate course at a private college in Kamuthi, was detained by the police during a vehicle check in on the Paramakudi-Keezhathoroval road in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district on the evening of Dec 4.

Manikandan, who rode the motorcyle accompanied by his friend Sanjeev, allegedly refused to stop the vehicle when cops asked him to do so. Subsequently, he was chased by the cops and caught. While Sanjeev escaped, Manikandan was detained at the station for enquiry.

Though the family alleged custodial torture, the police denied any such incidents. On Monday, they released CCTV footage supporting their claim.

The police said they informed Manikandan’s mother Ramalakshmi to pick her son from the station. Accompanied by her son and husband, Ramalakshmi picked up Manikandan in an autorickshaw. On Sunday morning, Manikandan was found lying motionless. The family took him to the nearby government hospital where he was declared brought dead.

His body was kept at the Mudukulathur government hospital after the completion of the post-mortem. The deceased youth’s family and friends refused to receive his body and staged a road blockade outside the hospital, demanding action against the errant police officers. After the senior police officers assured them of conducting an enquiry into the incident, the crowd dispersed.

Though the family alleged custodial torture, the police denied any such incidents. On Monday, they released CCTV footage supporting their claim.

Ramanathapuram SP E Karthik on Monday said that there was not a single injury mark on Manikandan’s body and that he was never Ill-treated. He said the officers conducted enquiry for about two and a half hours and Manikandan was present outside the station for more than two hours. The SP said they advised the mother to pay close attention to her son as his activities are suspicious.

Manikandan’s house. (Express)

He added that when Manikandan was found dead, he had been foaming at the mouth which may have happened as a result of consuming poison or due to any illness. Only after receiving the final autopsy report can the cause of death be ascertained, he said.

Speaking to IE Tamil, a police official at the Keezhathooval station said the ganja business had been taking place on a larger scale in Keezhathooval and other surrounding areas.

“Based on those tips, we were conducting checks in that area. During that time, Manikandan and his friend came in a motorcycle. They didn’t stop the vehicle, seeing the police Sanjeev escaped in the middle and Manikandan was caught. There have been many previous ganja cases booked against Sanjeev. We caught Manikandan around 6 pm and later took him to the station. We then informed his parents to come, we didn’t register any cases against him. We told his family members to pick up the bike the next day from the station. We have released the CCTV footage regarding the incident yesterday [Monday],” he said.

Alex Pandian, Manikandan’s younger brother, said his brother went to Muthukulathur to buy a new bike, a cake and some fertilizers.

“To buy a bike, we pledged our mother’s ring and chain. He had deposited around Rs 20,000 at a private bank in Muthukulathur. On December 4, he was on his way to buy the bike. He was caught by the police and was taken to the police station forcefully. We received a call at 07:15 from the station and they asked us to come. We picked our brother, he was complaining of stomach pain throughout the way. At night, he started vomiting blood,” he said.

Murugan, a Communist party functionary in the area, said Manikandan was not addicted to ganja or involved in any wrongdoing. “He is a fine sportsperson. He was aiming to join police or army. He did not have any bad habits as it is been claimed by the police,” he said.

Meanwhile, the political parties in the state including AIADMK, BJP, NTK and PMK demanded strong action against those responsible for Manikandan’s death.

(With inputs from Martin Jeyaraj)

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