Police seek court’s nod to take his buccal swabs

The city police on Tuesday said they suspected that one Suresh Babu, a 38-year-old inpatient, was responsible for the murder of a 60-year-old Andhra Pradesh native, tentatively identified as Venkateshappa, at the State Mental Health Centre (SMHC) here on December 4.

A magistrate court had referred Venkateshappa to the SMHC after the police arrested him near Kilimanoor on December 2 on the charge of behaving violently in public.

Investigators said that Venkateshappa and Suresh Babu, a native of Thirupuram near Poovar, were confined in the same cell. Hospital janitors found Venkateshappa dead on December 4 afternoon. The SMHC authorities reported the matter to the local police and transferred the body to the Medical College Hospital mortuary.

The police initially reported the incident as a case of suspicious death. A subsequent forensic examination confirmed murder. Injuries on neck and head had caused his death.

Satnam’s case

The police said Venkateshappa’s death could not be compared to the custodial death of a law student from Bihar, Satnam Singh, at the same institution early this year. The Crime Branch, which probed Satnam Singh’s murder, had arraigned six persons, including hospital staff, as accused in the case.

It had blamed the illegal practice of using “cured” patients, mostly convicts or under-trials, to subdue violent inmates as the reason for Satnam’s death. In comparison, the police said, so far, no SMHC staff had been found to have any role in Venkateshappa’s murder.

The prime suspect in the case, Suresh Kumar, had been reported missing from his house at Poovar for over a month.

A magistrate court had sent him to the SMHC after the Museum police detained him on the charge of showing aggression in public. His wife told the police that Suresh, a manual labourer, had been under psychiatric care for long. He was often sleepless but rarely violent, according to her. The police said they had sought the court’s permission to take “buccal swabs”, from the cheek of the suspect, to extract his DNA for comparison with the “debris”, (skin, hair, blood, etc.), collected from the body of the victim, particularly his fingernails. Forensic pathologists, who conducted the post-mortem examination on Venkateshappa’s body, told the police that multiple actions of aggression and defence had preceded his death.

They have ruled out the use of any weapon or blunt instrument in the murder.

The police would question the doctors and staff at the SMHC as part of their investigation on Monday. Circle Inspector, Peroorkada, R. Pratapan, headed the investigation.

The State police have contacted their counterparts in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to locate Venkateshappa’s address. So far, no one has claimed his body.