Pathanamthitta native Mathayi was found dead in a well at his farm while in the custody of Forest Department officials.

Family raises suspicions after Kerala man in Forest Dept custody found dead in well
news Crime Saturday, August 01, 2020 - 08:56

The post mortem of 40-year-old Pathanamthitta native Mathai who was recently found dead in a well while in the custody of the Kerala Forest Department has revealed that the man died due to drowning. The death of the man had created outrage among people in the village after his family and a section of residents alleged foul play by officials of the Forest Department. 

On Tuesday, Mathai was reportedly forcibly taken out of his home in Chittar, Pathanamthitta, by a few officials of the Forest Department.

Mathai’s family, including his wife and two young children, who were shocked to see this were only told there is a case against him. However, hours after the incident, they were informed that Mathai was found dead in a well near his farm which is 10 kilometers away from his home.

According to reports, the Forest Department said that Mathai was booked in a case for allegedly damaging a CCTV camera of the Department in Kudappana, which is around 10 km from his home where he also owns a farm. The well in which he was found dead is located in this farm. It is not clear why the Forest Department officials took him to the farm. 

Though he was taken by the Forest Department officials into custody, a case for damaging CCTV visuals for which he was nabbed was reportedly registered against Mathai only after his death.

Talking to TNM, one of Mathai’s friends, Abraham, recounted some of the incidents which have made the family suspicious of the authorities’ version of events. 

“First of all, we are not sure why he was taken to this farm instead of taking him to the Forest Department office. As per what witnesses told us, Mathai’s death came to light when one of the workers living nearby the farm passed through the place. The worker told us that the Forest Department officials called out to him saying that a man had jumped into the well. Seeing that it was Mathai, he called out to others around, and gathered them all,” said Abraham. 

Abraham alleged that Forest Department officials left the spot when people started to gather. “The sad part which the worker recounted is, no Forest officers present were trying to rescue Mathai. They asked this worker to bring a rope while there was already a rope tied to a small vessel to draw water lying around,” Abraham alleged. 

Mathai’s wife Sheeba also spoke to the media, alleging that the officials had a role in his death. “They did not even show us an arrest warrant or any paper. When I asked, they told me to come to Chittar (office) to know more details. I strongly believe he was assaulted and was put in danger,” Sheeba had told Manorama News following her husband’s death.

Meanwhile, officials at the Chittar police station told TNM that the post mortem reveals no sign of assault. “Though the post-mortem report has not yet come, medical experts who held the procedure have told that he has died of drowning. The injury he has is due to the fall. He fell hitting his left side and there is an injury on the left side of head, left side of hip and left hand,” the official told TNM.

The police officer said that at present, a case has been filed only for unnatural death and no forest officials are accused. “As far as the investigation has gone, there is nothing which can be against Forest Department officials though it is true Mathai was taken in custody,” said the officer. As per reports, officials of the Forest Department involved in Mathai’s arrest and custody have gone on compulsory leave.


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