Another complaint of alleged police torture has surfaced in Tamil Nadu, of a 32-year-old who has been hospitalised nearly a month after he claims he was beaten up with iron rods, leaving him with fractures.
A hotel manager from Tiruchendur in Thoothukudi, working in Guruvayur in Kerala, S Manikandan was picked up from there and brought to the Tiruchendur Police Station, 500 km away, in early June. In his complaint to court, he has said police acted against him for a video he had posted against DMK MLA Anitha R Radhakrishnan on Facebook back in January.
He was shifted to hospital at the instance of a district judge who has been inspecting jails in Thoothukudi district for victims of alleged police torture. The judge is doing this at the behest of the Madras High Court, following the deaths of P Jeyaraj and son J Bennix leading to a political storm in Tamil Nadu.
Manikandan was remanded in custody by P Saravanan, the same Sathankulam Judicial Magistrate whose role has been questioned in clearing several remands, including that of Jeyaraj and Bennix.
Admitting that the case against Manikandan was of “talking against the Nadar community” — the powerful caste group to which Radhakrishnan belongs — Jeyakumar, the new SP of Thoothukudi, said police protection would be given to Manikandan. “I have just taken charge. I am studying cases one by one. I cannot comment on the charges,” he said.
A source aware of the case said the way Manikandan had been brought from Guruvayur and tortured had shocked the court. “If there was a warrant, they should have sought the help of local police. If there was no warrant, then it was outside their jurisdiction.”
In his video post, Manikandan accused Radhakrishnan of favouring his community. He has said in his complaint that as the video went viral, he as well as his family in Tiruchendur received threats from the Nadar community.
Opinion| Crime and impunity
On June 6, police summoned Manikandan’s father, a postmaster, and his brother. Early on June 7 morning, he found five people at his rented room in Guruvayur.
Manikandan says in his complaint that they introduced themselves as police officers from the Tiruchendur, and that they handcuffed him, took away all his cash, his ATM card, his ID cards and drove him to Tiruchendur. He claims his torture started near Thoothukudi.
He says he reached the Tiruchendur Police Station around 10.30 pm and found his brother and father there. “They were not allowed to talk to me.”
On June 8, Manikandan says, he was told that the Tiruchendur DSP would be conducting an inquiry. He adds that he was then taken to the first floor of the police station, and beaten. He says he was tortured from morning till around 3pm “continuously”. “Two lathis broke and they started the torture with a plastic pipe.” His toes got fractured, he says.
Around 5.30 pm, on June 9, Manikandan says police personnel handcuffed his left hand to a window grille, placed his right on a platform, wrapped it in an empty sack and kept hitting the latter with an iron rod. “They continued the torture until I almost collapsed.”
Manikandan has said in his complaint that he was warned not to talk about the torture to the doctor or magistrate before the remand. Around 9.30 pm, his complaint says, Inspector Muthuraman of the Tiruchendur station and his juniors produced Manikandan before Judicial Magistrate Saravanan. Manikandan says he explained his injuries as caused due to a fall, and the judge remanded him to Perurani jail in Thoothukudi.
The 32-year-old has told the court he is afraid of being released on bail, the source said, fearing he might be picked up again.