Kerala

Kerala custodial death: Crime Branch arrests two officers

Vijaya (right), wife of Rajkumar who died in police custody, along with her mother, Sundari, coming out of the State Assembly after meeting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan | File

Vijaya (right), wife of Rajkumar who died in police custody, along with her mother, Sundari, coming out of the State Assembly after meeting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan | File   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

They were indicted for illegal detention and custodial torture of cheating case suspect Rajkumar

The Kerala Police Crime Branch (CB) on July 3 arrested two officers in connection with the politically controversial custodial death of Rajkumar, 49, a private financier and cheating case suspect, in Idukki on June 21.

Officials identified the accused as K.A. Sabu, Sub-Inspector, Nedukandam Police Station, and Civil Police Officer, Sajeev Antony. The CB has indicted them for illegal detention and custodial torture.

Investigators said that the statements of fellow officers, who reportedly testified to the prolonged torture and brutal interrogation of Rajkumar in police custody, had led to the arrests.

The CB had also stumbled on attempts by local law enforcers to destroy evidence and fudge station records to absolve themselves of responsibility for the death.

‘More arrests likely’

Investigators said they suspected the possible role of supervisory officers in the attempt to nullify evidence and more arrests would follow.

Forensic doctors had counted 22 injuries on Rajkumar’s body and found that he had died of an infection caused due to severe physical trauma.

The end came when he was under treatment as a remand prisoner at the Peerumedu taluk hospital. The CB was also investigating the role of prison authorities and whether they had denied Rajkumar timely medical attention.

The government had found itself on the back foot as the death snowballed into a major political controversy that brought the Kerala Legislative Assembly to a standstill on several days last week.

‘Unholy business nexus’

The Opposition had alleged that an unholy business nexus between local CPI(M) leaders and Rajkumar had resulted in the victim’s illegal detention and torture.

The incident had also cast the State police in poor light and raised serious questions about its human rights record.

Investigators had also found “yawning gaps” in the narrative of the Nedukandam police regarding the circumstances of Rajkumar’s arrest and subsequent death.

Rajkumar, who owned Haritha Finance, had opened business promising loans up to ₹1 lakh on a ₹1,000 deposit. His firm, which initially did well, ran into debt later.

The CB said the Idukki police could not account for what happened to Rajkumar after a set of depositors handed him over to the local law enforcers in a public place at 3.30 p.m. on June 12.

The Nedukandam station records showed that the police had arrested him only at 9 p.m. on June 15 and the suspect had injured himself while attempting to flee the law.

The CB case was that the local police had subjected him to lengthy and harsh questioning at the station to find out if had secreted any cash away. The agency was also looking into the alleged involvement of local CPI(M) leaders in the episode.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 9:12:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-custodial-death-crime-branch-arrests-two-officers/article28270241.ece

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