39 days later, Kerala farmer’s body to be buried today

His wife alleging custodial torture kept up a spirited fight for a re-post-mortem and went to HC which ordered a CBI probe

COVID-19, death, coronavirus, body management
The farmer PP Mathayi’s wife Sheeba had refused to bury the body until those responsible for his death were booked. Representational image: iStock

A farmer who was found dead under mysterious circumstances at Chittar village in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala would be laid to rest on Saturday, 39 days after his body was found in a well in a forested area.

PP Mathayi’s wife Sheeba had refused to bury the body until those responsible for his death were booked. She relented only after a re-post-mortem on Friday and an assurance from a CBI team investigating the case that she would get justice.

“I trust them. They promised me that they would find the truth and book the culprits,” Sheeba told The Federal. No one has been arrested in the case.

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Mathayi (41) was picked up by the forest officers of Chittar range office around 5 pm on July 28. “A team of foresters came to my house and took him away for some inquiry. I was informed he would be released soon. Around 6.30pm I got a call from a relative that my husband was found dead in a well nearby,” recalls Sheeba.

“When I went there, the police and some other officials were in a hurry to take out the body and go for other procedures. I did not let them take the body out of the well until a senior officer talked to me,” says Sheeba, stressing it was a case custodial torture.

The case was investigated by the Crime Branch. They lodged an FIR against the foresters for culpable homicide (under IPC Section 304) and related offences. Meanwhile, the High Court issued an order for a CBI investigation on a writ petition filed by Sheeba.

“The investigation was in progress, we have found that they (foresters) failed to follow the proper procedure” says Pradeep Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Crime Branch.

Nothing unusual was found in the post-mortem in which the cause of death was found to be drowning. The CBI team that took over the investigation from the Crime Branch decided to conduct a re-post-mortem by a team of forensic experts who had done a re-post-mortem in a previous case of custodial death investigated by the Central probe agency.

In a similar case reported in June last year, Rajkumar from Nedumkandam in Idukki died allegedly in custody. The CBI got hold of the crucial evidence of custodial torture in the second post-mortem. A team of doctors was specially assigned for a re-post mortem in the Mathayi case too.

Sheeba’s determination that her husband’s body would not be buried unless the truth came out did not go in vain.

“There are some procedures to be followed in a case of suspected custodial death. At times, doctors fail to mark all wounds which might be a crucial factor in finding the truth,” says a doctor who performed the re-post mortem of Mathayi referring to the case of the custodial death of Raj Kumar.

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