The case of 26-year-old Sreejith's alleged custodial death in Kerala has turned murkier. Even as the state police is receiving flak for arresting the wrong Sreejith in a suicide abetment case, allegations of CPI(M)'s involvement in his arrest has now surfaced.
Varappuzha police arrested Sreejith after 65-year-old Vasudevan hanged to death allegedly after a gang threatened him at his house.
The police had claimed that they arrested Sreejith based on Vasudevan's neighbour and CPI(M) branch secretary PM Parameswaran's statement. According to the police, Parameshwaran saw Sreejith barging into Vasudevan's house and threatening him.
However, speaking to the media on Thursday, Parameshwaran's son Sarath said that his father had not been witness to the incident and that he was forced to testify against Sreejith because of pressure from CPI (M). The police have been accused of using Parameswaran's statement to cover their tracks as it has now emerged that they had arrested the wrong Sreejith.
"My father wasn't home at the time of the incident. Then how can he be a witness to it?" Sarath asked.
When a television channel first approached Parameshwaran on Wednesday, he had said that he has not given any statement to the police against Sreejith and that the police had fabricated his statement. However, he later retracted this and said that he had indeed testified against Sreejith.
Speaking about Parameshwaran's u-turn, Sarath said:
"My father had initially said that the police fabricated his statement. But later, a party member Denny and local committee member KJ Thomas took my father to a party memberâ€™s house. When he came back, he began to claim that he had indeed given a statement against Sreejith. Our house is located at least 500 m away from Vasudevan's house; it is impossible for my father to be witness to it. He was at work."
Sarath also claimed to possess photographs of a register in which Parameswaran had made an entry that can prove that he was at the market at the time of the incident.
The police had taken into custody Sreejith and 13 others on Saturday on charges of abetment to suicide and rioting. It was alleged that Sreejith and 13 others had barged into Vasudevan, a former CPM memberâ€™s house, and threatened the 56-year-old and his son, Vineesh. Vasudevan committed suicide later that day.
Did police forge documents?
Parameshwaran's statement is reportedly not the only one that the police has been accused of forging. According to television reports, the police have forged Vasudevan's son Vineesh's statement too.
Sreejith and his brother Sajithâ€™s names were not a part of the first statement that Vineesh had given to the police while identifying the people who had attacked his house. Their names however featured in Vineeshâ€™s second statement that was put out by the police a day after the arrests were made.
Following the arrest, Sreejith was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain on Sunday and passed away on Monday night. Varappuzha police denied Sreejith's familyâ€™s claim that he was subjected to custodial torture which had resulted in his death. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Crime Branch IG S Sreejith was constituted on Wednesday, to probe Sreejith's death.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Kasargode that the government will take strict action against custodial deaths. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has sought for a judicial probe.