Relatives allege Ajikumar was tortured while in custody

The death of a remand prisoner, Ajikumar, 42, a native of Aivarkala, Kollam, on Saturday night at the Medical College Hospital (MCH), where he had been admitted, created some tension at the hospital with the relatives of the patient alleging that he was tortured in police custody.

According to the Superintendent of Medical College Hospital, K. Mohandas, Ajikumar was brought to the MCH on August 2 directly from the Kollam district jail, where he had been remanded. He was in restraints when he was brought to the hospital as he was restless and had convulsions, all of which pointed to alcohol-withdrawal symptoms, he said.

Ajikumar developed pancreatitis, a condition that is linked to alcohol use, following which there was renal failure. He had been in the ventilator since August 7.

Ajikumar developed pneumonia and died on Saturday night, MCH authorities said. The body was handed over to relatives after autopsy on Sunday. MCH sources said there were no injuries on the patient when he was brought in. The patient had to be kept in restraints, as he was restless and could have caused self-harm, they said.

The CPI(M) State secretariat has demanded a judicial inquiry into the deaths of Ajikumar and Satnam Singh, who allegedly died after being beaten up by the employees of the State Mental Health Centre..

Incidentally, both the men were brought to the Medical College Hospital in the same vehicle from Kollam. In a statement here on Sunday, the CPI(M) secretariat said Ajikumar was arrested on the charge of having stolen rubber sheets. The police had tied the hands and legs of Ajikumar when he was being taken to the medical college hospital on the plea that he had shown signs of mental illness.

‘Not convincing’

The official version that he had died of pneumonia and mental illness was not convincing. Satnam’s and Ajikumar’s deaths deserved to be probed in depth.