A 21-year-old cab driver who set himself ablaze after a heated argument with a traffic police officer has succumbed to his injuries at the Government Kilpauk Medical College in Chennai. Manikandan was receiving treatment for third degree burns.
On Wednesday, traffic police had allegedly beaten up the driver, who hails from Tirunelveli, for not wearing his seatbelt at a traffic signal on Rajiv Gandhi Salai in Chennai. He was allegedly hit with an iron rod as well. Upset over this treatment, the driver then came back to his vehicle and doused himself with petrol that he had kept in the car. He then set himself on fire. He was then rushed to the Kilpauk Medical College hospital by the police who allegedly assaulted him.
In a video that surfaced on social media soon after the incident, Manikandan appeared to be addressing a few men from his hospital bed. He said, "Anna, the police hit me badly. They used my caste name and then hit me with a rod." He further went on to say that when he tried to take a photo, they spoke badly about his sisters. He also mentioned that someone from Velachery had his mobile phone and original license.
Manikandanâ€™s family members have demanded action against all police officials connected to the incident.
According to reports, Thamarai Selvam, a police sub-inspector has been suspended in connection with the incident and the case will now be referred for a magisterial probe.
Soon after the incident, TNM contacted the police personnel handling the case, who then denied the role of the traffic cops in the incident. "There was no such assault to our knowledge. But we will investigate the matter further and get to the bottom of it," said an investigating official.
Just a few months ago in November, in yet another case of abuse of power by the authorities, a policeman from Kallupalam in Kanyakumari district was caught on camera whacking a bike rider with his lathi for not wearing a helmet and speeding past when asked to stop.
The biker sustained severe injuries. Following the incident, outraged passers by fought back with the police. The incident ended in a scuffle between the cops and the public. The constable who attacked the rider was placed under suspension following the incident.