The death of a 20-year-old youth in Madurai on Wednesday (September 16) has put the police in the dock with relatives alleging custodial torture.
The victim, K. Ramesh, 20, of Annaikaraipatti village, near Peraiyur, in Madurai district, was found dead hanging from a tree on Thursday.
Sources said he was ‘taken’ by the police for an inquiry the previous day. The family said the youth was tortured and killed in police custody before the body was hung from the tree.
On August 23, Ramesh’s brother Udhayakani reportedly eloped with a 17-year-old girl. Based on a complaint by the girl’s parents, the Saptur police in Madurai had registered a case.
The police failed to locate the duo. Ramesh’s mother, Pandiyamma, said a police team headed by Saptur sub-inspector Jayakannan picked up Ramesh for ‘an inquiry’ from their house.
“However, he didn’t return home till morning and we were informed by the police that he was found hanging from a tree, a few metres away from the house,” a relative of Ramesh said.
Pamdiyamma and Ramesh’s another sibling Santhosh alleged that he was tortured in police custody during the inquiry. They pointed to an injury on the leg, reportedly inflicted by the police in custody.
The family members and villagers sought action against the police. “Sub-inspector Jayakannan and three others who took Ramesh for an inquiry should be booked on charges of murder. We need justice,” a relative of Ramesh said.
A senior police officer, who didn’t want to be named, said they had not taken Ramesh for an inquiry at all. “The police went to his house and asked him to appear for an inquiry. The police didn’t take Ramesh to the police station. The police also met his brother Santhosh and asked him to appear for an inquiry, too. We also have CCTV footage to substantiate our claim,” the officer said.
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Based on a complaint from Ramesh’s brother Santhosh, the Saptur police registered a case under section 174(3) of the CrPC. The Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) will also hold an inquiry.
The incident assumes significance as a father-son duo died reportedly of brutal police torture in the Sathankulam police station on June 22 and 23.
The Federal had reported that the father-son duo had died of sexual torture inflicted on them. Several civil society members including singer-activist T.M. Krishna had condemned the deaths.