"They made them stand on chairs set in between pillars. Then they tied their thumbs to the pillars and removed the chairs, so they were left hanging by their thumbs," one of the detained men described the torture.

Sakthivel seen lying on a hospital bed with his left wrist handcuffed to the bed
news Police excess Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 20:57

One of the five Kuravar men, who were forcefully arrested by the police earlier this week, has now been rushed to the hospital. 28-year-old Sakthivel was the fifth man to be arrested by the Kallakurichi police in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. Sakthivel was on Thursday evening rushed to the Ulundurpet General Hospital from the Ulundurpet sub-jail after he complained of chest pain. After an initial examination at Ulundurpet, he was shifted to Villupuram Mundiampakkam General Hospital.

Palaniyammal, secretary of the Kuravar Association has alleged that Sakthivel was tortured by the police while in custody. “The police tied him up, hung him upside down and beat him,” she alleged. “They tied him up and hung him by his thumbs. His thumbs would have taken the weight of his whole body. He’s told the police that he has chest-pain. We are also going there (to the hospital). We are afraid that if we’re not present at the hospital the police will change the medical report to suit themselves.”

TNM had earlier reported that three of the five men — 23-year-old Prakash, and two of his relatives, 55-year-old Selvam and 35-year-old Dharmaraj — were picked up on November 14 without a warrant, and two days later, two others, Sakthivel and Paramasivan, were picked up by the police. While two of them, Paramasivan and Selvam were released over their health issues, the other three were remanded to custody on Wednesday. The family members of the men have alleged that the men are being framed in false cases and were tortured in custody to confess to the purported charges. 

On Wednesday, Selavam, who is one of the two men later released by the police, detailed what happened when they were taken into custody. He described what happened to Dharmaraj and Prakash. “The police made me face the wall. Just hearing them scream in pain, shook me. I went numb listening to it. They made the two of them stand on chairs set in between pillars. Then they tied their thumbs to the pillars and removed the chairs, so they were left hanging by their thumbs.” He also alleges in this video that they were all blindfolded so they had no idea where they were being taken. “They abused us with filthy language, called us thieves,” he adds in the video. 

Two days after the men were first arrested, Bhuvaneswari, the wife of Prakash, who is in custody of the police, wrote to the police demanding to see her family members. She alleged that on November 14, around 11.45 pm, a special team consisting of 10 policemen reached their home in a white tempo. At that time, her husband Prakash and their children as well as their relatives Dharmaraj and Selvam were sleeping at their home. “They asked my husband and two of our relatives to come to the police station for an investigation. They verbally abused my husband, and referred to our caste name with slurs when we asked them for the reason behind the investigation,” the complaint by Bhuvaneswari adds. 

According to reports, the five men were arrested on charges of robbery, as the police claimed that their fingerprints matched those left behind at a crime scene where an incident of theft was reported. However, Bhuvaneswari, as well as activists based in the area, have alleged these charges against her husband and their relatives are false, and have demanded that they be released. 

Dharmaraj’s wife, speaking to TNM, had alleged her husband told her that he was being tortured in custody. Dharmaraj also allegedly told his wife that the police asked them to bring “gold or silver” so that they can justify the case filed against the men by presenting the men’s families’ gold or silver as recovered loot. Dharmaraj’s wife has alleged that he had to agree to give the police something just to make the torture stop.  

Read: With no warrants, TN police barge into homes of Kuravar men, take them into custody