The alleged custodial death of a financier in Kerala’s Idukki district is becoming a major headache for the ruling CPM as more custodial cases under the Pinarayi Vijayan government have become a talking point.
A recent case is of Rajkumar, 49, a private financier at Nedumkandam in Idukki, who was taken into police custody on June 12 and kept in illegal detention for three days before his arrest was recorded on June 15. The next day, he was produced before a magistrate court, which remanded him in judicial custody for two weeks. Rajkumar died on June 21 at a hospital.
The post-mortem report stated that the victim suffered 22 wounds and bruises, most of them below the thighs, indicating that he was subjected to torture.
On Monday, Rajkumar’s family threatened to start an indefinite agitation at Thiruvananthapuram in demand of a CBI probe, but dropped the plan after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured them stern action against the police officers responsible.
The victim’s mother Kasthuri, 70, demanded that a murder case be registered against the police officers, including Idukki SP K B Venugopal, and a compensation be provided.
Rajkumar had allegedly collected around Rs 2 crore from people after promising to arrange micro-finance at low interest rates. When he could not provide the finance, the investors complained against him and he was taken into custody.
Sources at the state police Crime Branch, which is probing the custodial death case, said police at Nedumkandam station appeared to have tortured Rajkumar in a bid to recover the money. The high court registrar for subordinate judiciary are also probing the circumstances in which Idukki magistrate Rashmi Raveendran remanded Rajkumar in judicial custody without looking into his health condition.
While the CPM Idukki district leadership came out in support of officials, the CPI wanted murder charges to be slapped on the district SP.
Leader of the Opposition in Assembly leader Ramesh Chennithala scoffed at the Chief Minister’s assurance of acting against erring policemen. Referring to the custodial death of a youth in Ernakulam last year, he said the government “protected” senior police officers who “acted at the behest of CPM” and “reinstated them with promotion”. In April last year, a youth named Sreejith (26) died of alleged custodial torture after police nabbed him for allegedly attacking another person.