HW English

Will not protect erring policemen: CM on custodial death row

Thiruvananthapuram | Facing heat over increasing complaints of custodial torture in police stations, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said his government would not protect any erring policeman involved in persecuting people in lockups but would face tough action.

“No one has the right to keep any person in custody illegally or beat them to death. Such people will no longer be there in the state police service,” he told the state Assembly.

Vijayan was replying to a notice seeking adjournment motion by the Congress-led UDF opposition, demanding a judicial probe into the recent alleged custodial torture and death of a 49-year-old man at Nedumkandam in Idukki district.

Rajkumar, who was taken into custody on June 12 in connection with a financial fraud case, had died on June 21 in Peermedu sub-jail, allegedly due to custodial torture.

As per the post-mortem report, he had suffered serious injuries and had critical wounds on both legs below the knees.

Four police personnel — including a Sub Inspector, Assistant Sub Inspector and two drivers of Nedumkandam police station — had been suspended and eight others transferred in connection with the incident.

Rajkumar’s death has triggered widespread criticism against the state police and the Home Department, headed by the Chief Minister.

“If any policeman is found guilty in the incident, they will not remain in the service anymore. The government will not protect anyone.

There will not be any compromise in this.

“A comprehensive probe is on and we can come to a conclusion only after receiving the preliminary investigation report,” Vijayan said.

Rejecting his reply, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CM’s assurance was worthless and “like a torn sack”.

The policemen accused in the alleged custodial death of a youth in Varapuzha last year were still in service, he said.

A senior police official allegedly involved in that incident was even given a promotion to the plum post of city police commissioner by the Chief Minister, Chennithala alleged.

“So you (Chief Minister) should order a judicial probe into the death of Rajkumar, if there is any sincerity in your words.

“If possible, a sitting judge should probe the case. How can police investigate a brutal crime allegedly done by their own men?” Chennithala asked.

V D Satheesan of the Congress, who sought the notice for the motion, alleged that police were trying to mislead the probe and slap false cases against local people in connection with Rajkumar’s death.

Custodial tortures and deaths were continuing in Kerala as no one had control over the state police, the MLA alleged.

As Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan rejected their plea to discuss the issue on the floor of the House, Opposition members later staged a walkout.

Meanwhile, the family of the deceased — his wife Sunanda and mother Vijaya — met the Chief Minister, who assured them all help in connection with the case.

They have demanded a CBI probe into the alleged custodial torture and death of Rajkumar and for cases to be registered against higher officials, including Idukki District Superintendent of Police.

The family decided not to go an indefinite agitation in the state capital here on Tuesday, as announced earlier.

They had said they would resort to the stir if the Left government was not ready to address their demands.

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