He had carried out the inquest on Sr. Abhaya’s body
KOTTAYAM: V.V. Augustine, former Additional Sub-Inspector (ASI) who had carried out the inquest on the body of Sr. Abhaya 16 years ago, was found dead in a compound near his house on Tuesday afternoon. He was 72.
According to relatives, Augustine, Vazhekkad House, Chalachira, Ithithanam, near Changanassery, visited the house of his son, nearly half a kilometre away from his own, by noon. He saw the news coverage of the Abhaya murder case on TV and left the house by 1 p.m. Since he had not reached his house after some time, his daughter-in-law informed his son of the matter. His son, a serving policeman in the State Police Department at Changanassery, arrived there with a few of his friends in search of his father. The body was found in a nearby compound by 4 p.m.
His left wrist was found cut and there was frothing at the mouth. The Chingavanom police arrived at the scene soon and a police contingent, led by Kottayam Deputy Superintendent of Police P.K. Madhu, later. The body has not been removed from the spot as it was already late evening. Police sources said a letter had been retrieved from the body. They said they suspected that it was a case of suicide.
Augustine was ASI at the Kottayam (West) police station when Sr. Abhaya’s body was found in the well of her convent hostel on March 27, 1992. He was one of the first police officers who arrived at the scene. The inquest on the body of Sr. Abhaya was conducted under the leadership of Augustine. He was also one of the key figures of the local police team that investigated the unnatural death during the first 17 days, before it was handed over to the Crime Branch. The local police had concluded that the unnatural death was a case of suicide.
However, during the investigation of the first Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team, led by the then Dy.SP Varghese P. Thomas, who took charge after ten months of the death of Sr. Abhaya, discrepancies in the police FIR and the report of the Fire Force had come to light. Subsequent CBI teams had questioned Augustine in connection with the murder case. Early this year, he was asked, along with a few others, to undergo a narco analysis by the CBI. However, he refused to undergo the test citing health reasons. According to relatives, he has been to Kochi on Monday as the CBI had summoned him.
Augustine is survived by wife, three sons and a daughter.