A 26-year-old man from Kerala, who was in police custody since Saturday, died on Monday night at a hospital in Ernakulam.
Sreejith, a native of Varappuzha, was arrested on Saturday in connection with the suicide of 56-year-old Vasudevan. After he complained of abdominal pain and inability to urinate, Sreejith was admitted to a private hospital on Sunday and a surgery was performed; however, he died on Monday night.
Sreejith is the 12th accused in a case relating to the suicide of Vasudevan, a former CPI (M) member, according to the police. Sreejith, along with 13 other men, allegedly barged into Vasudevanâ€™s house on Friday afternoon and threatened his family. Police said that Sreejith and the other accused threatened Vasudevan after the latterâ€™s family members clashed with one of the accused. The reason for the altercation is not known.
Following the altercation, Vasudevan hanged himself at his house later that day. The CPI (M) observed a hartal on Saturday.
Police in plainclothes took Sreejith into custody on Saturday morning and recorded his arrest. He, along with the others, were charged for abetment of suicide, breaking into a house and rioting.
Sreejithâ€™s family has alleged that he died of custodial torture, an allegation that Varappuzha police denied. Manorama reported that hospital records stated that Sreejith had suffered injury to his small intestine and abdomen.
Reports also stated that Sreejithâ€™s wife raised a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, alleging that Sreejith was tortured in police custody. The family have also alleged that when they met Sreejith at the station after he was arrested, he complained of abdominal pain but the police did not provide him medical aid.
Human Rights Commission chairperson Mohandas, who had visited Sreejith in the hospital on Monday, was quoted as saying: â€śWe suspect it to be a case of custodial torture leading to death. I have spoken to the doctors and family members and believe that the injury was caused when he was in custody. I have instructed the DGP for an SP-level probe and sought a detailed report. Also, Varappuzha sub-inspector G S Deepak has been asked to be personally present in the next hearing on April 23.â€ť
On Tuesday, the state DGP ordered an SIT probe into Sreejithâ€™s death. The probe will be headed by Crime Branch IG S Sreejith.
According to the police, Sreejith is a BJP sympathiser. Following his death, the BJP observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Varappuzha on Tuesday. Altercations were reported from Varappuzha, when a man, who was on the way to the hospital with his toddler, was blocked by protesters. Television reports showed protesters blocking a few students.