The families of two people who were detained said that they weren’t informed about the arrest or the death, and learnt about it through the media.

A file photo of Vignesh, whose family has now alleged that custodial torture by the Chennai police led to his deathFile photo of Vignesh
news Policing Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 18:34

The family of a 25-year-old man in Chennai have alleged that he died due to custodial torture at the G5 Secretariat Colony police station. Vignesh, a resident of Pattinapakkam, used to offer horse rides at Chennai’s Marina Beach. He was stopped by the police along with one Suresh (28), a construction worker who lived in Thiruvallikeni on Monday night, April 18.

Speaking to TNM outside the morgue at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, family members said that they weren’t informed about the arrest and learnt about it through the media. When they reached the station, they were not allowed to see the body and the police made them wait for several hours.

“We didn’t know anything about this. We saw on the news that one person passed away and we came here after that,” Suresh’s mother, Karpagam said. “I had set up a shop at Thiruvallikeni yesterday. Some boys known to me showed me on their phone that my son was standing next to another son after being arrested. As soon as I saw it, I broke down crying. I then came home and told everyone else.” Suresh has been produced before a magistrate and has been remanded in judicial custody.

Vignesh’s family were made to sit inside the police station and their access to the media was restricted. At Government Kilpauk Medical College too, Vignesh’s brother Vinod was seen sitting quietly under the eyes of police personnel. When TNM managed to speak to him, he said that he had seen his brother’s body and there were injuries on his face and arms, allegedly from custodial torture. TNM also spoke to another person who saw the body and also confirmed that there were injury marks on Vignesh’s face and arms.

Giving their version of events, the police said that Vignesh and Suresh were travelling in an auto that was stopped during night checks at Kellys. The police claimed that the duo had some injury marks and after questioning them, officials found ganja, liquor bottles and a knife, following which the duo allegedly tried to attack them. They were overpowered and brought to the police station, where Vignesh developed health complications and had a seizure, the police said. The police claimed that Vignesh passed away on the way to the hospital.

However, stating that he had no health ailments, the victim’s family complained that the police told them that the body will not be handed over to them and will be taken directly to the crematorium. Meanwhile, police officials remained tightlipped and refused to comment on the issue, as a judicial investigation is now underway into the incident.