In the afternoon of September 27, 2005, sometime around 2:30 pm, constables of the Fort Police Station in Thiruvananthapuram picked up Udayakumar, a 27-year-old worker at a scrapyard, and his friend Suresh Kumar from the Sreekantheshwaram Park in Kochi on charges of theft. The cops found in their possession Rs 4,500 which they suspected was stolen currency.
The two were transported to the police station in an autorickshaw and taken into custody by the constables. Udayakumar, in particular, was questioned about the alleged theft and later subjected to brutal torture by the police with the intention of extricating a confession from him. According to officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case, the constables made Udayakumar lie spread-eagled on his back on a wooden bench and beat his soles with a cane stick. Subsequently, the officers rolled down a heavy, hollow iron pipe on Udayakumar’s thighs as part of third-degree torture measures.
The injuries sustained in the torture that day led to Udayakumar’s death in custody, sparking panic among the officers. The incident, which when tumbled into the public spotlight, sparked massive protests against the inhuman treatment meted out to Udayakumar by the state police force. Attempts to cover up the case by fudging records and fabricating false cases against Udayakumar especially by the senior officials were probed by the CBI which took over the case in 2008 on directions of the Kerala High Court. For Udayakumar, his aged mother Prabhavati fought relentlessly and single-handedly, going from court to court and demanding justice for her son.
The long trial of the case, which saw an initial sloppy investigation by the state police and later extensive probing by the CBI, saw witnesses like Suresh Kumar turning hostile and changing his statement under alleged police pressure. There were also charges of fabrication of crucial evidence during the course of the trial.
After 13-long years, on Tuesday, a CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram found two civil police officers, K Jithakumar and SV Sreekumar, guilty of murdering Udayakumar. A third CPO, Soman, accused in the case, passed away during the course of the trial. Three other senior officers, then Assistant Commissioner TK Haridas, then Circle Inspector EK Sabu and then-Sub Inspector Ajith Kumar were found guilty of abetment to crime by fudging records and destroying evidence.
On Wednesday, the judge announced the quantum of punishment for the guilty. Jithakumar and Sreekumar were awarded the death penalty. They have been ordered to pay a fine of Rs 2 lakh each to the family of the victim. Sabu and Ajith Kumar were sentenced to six years in prison and Haridas to three years in prison. The three officers have to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each.