People block police jeep, allege the youth was chased by the police

A tense situation prevailed in the coastal area of Thanni in the city on Sunday afternoon when over 500 people placed on the bonnet of a police jeep the body of a 21-year-old Dalit youth, D. Sumesh, who drowned in Thanni Lake on Saturday night.

They blocked the vehicle for over two hours demanding the arrival of the District Collector and top police officers there.

The situation eased when Additional District Magistrate Unnikrishnan and Assistant Commissioner of Police B. Krishna Kumar arrived there and held talks with those who led the mob. By 5 p.m., the mob allowed the police to take custody of the body which was then taken to the mortuary of the Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, where the autopsy will be conducted on Monday.

The mob withdrew their blockade when it was assured that the local Eravipuram police will not conduct the probe into the incident. Mr. Krishna Kumar said the probe would be headed by the Kollam Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO).

The mob held the Eravipuram police responsible for the drowning.

Those who led the mob alleged that Sumesh had jumped into the lake on Saturday night on being chased by a police team from the Eravipuram police station.

Sumesh, who worked as a private bus conductor, was riding on a motorcycle with two other men when the police signalled them to stop. But they sped away and the police chased the motorcycle. Sumesh, who was riding pillion, hopped off the motorcycle and jumped into the lake. But he did not know swimming. Another man, riding pillion with him, ran away in a different direction. The man who was riding the motorcycle drove away.

A search was launched for Sumesh when he did not turn up at home even on Sunday morning. The police confirmed that he was not taken into custody. By noon, some of the local people fished out his body from the lake. This triggered tension in the area, and the crowd who gathered at the spot blocked the jeep of an additional sub inspector from the Eravipuram station. It was on this jeep that the body of Sumesh was kept.

Routine patrol

Police said a team from the Eravipuram station had gone to Thanni on routine patrol duty, as there were complaints of gangs consuming alcohol and engaging in revelry under the Thanni bridge during nights. According to them, Sumesh was wanted in connection with a case and that last week his motorcycle was seized by the Eravipuram police which was still at the station.

Sumesh might have concluded that the patrol team had come in search of him and could have jump into the lake to escape, the police said.

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