Ramanathapuram native Manikandan’s death sparked a row as his parents alleged that their son died due to custodial violence in the Keelathooval police station on December 4.

A thin dark man n a blue shirt
news Custodial violence Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - 17:21

Tamil Nadu man Manikandan’s death was a result of poisoning, and not because he was physically assaulted by the police, ADGP (Law and Order) Chennai, Thamaraikannan IPS, confirmed on December 14. The senior officer referred to the results of Manikandan’s re-postmortem, which was done on December 8 as per the orders of the Madras High Court. But what’s unclear is whether Manikandan, the 21-year-old college student from Mudkulathur in Ramanathapuram, was in fact beaten up by the Keelathooval police when he was questioned on December 4. And if so, why? A clear response from the police to this question is needed as Manikandan's death has triggered discussions about custodial violence in Tamil Nadu once again. 

Manikandan’s parents have also alleged that their son died from custodial torture and they seek answers. “His parents were not happy with the initial post mortem which was conducted on December 5, which was also recorded on video. So his mother moved the Madras High Court, and the court ordered for a re-postmortem in the presence of a forensic team and asked for the procedure to be fully recorded on video. On December 8, the re-postmortem was completed. We handed Manikandan's preserved viscera to the forensic team, and they found traces of poison in it,” the ADGP explained in his press conference. He added that the post mortem report, which was received on December 13, states that Manikandan did not die due to custodial torture, but after consuming poison.

“We had seized a bottle of monocrotophos (poison) from his house near Mudkulathur when we visited the spot. However, we were waiting for a post mortem confirmation on the same,” ADGP Thamaraikannan said. Parallel investigations are taking place by the DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police and team) and the RDO (Revenue Divisional Officer) Paramakudi to find out the deceased man’s motivation to consume poison, he added. When a reporter asked whether the young man had consumed poison because he was beaten up in custody, the ADGP added that these reasons have to be probed.

Explaining the sequence of events from Manikandan entering the police station to him being released, the ADGP says that the 21-year-old had been brought to the station at 7 pm on December 4. His mother was called to the station and he was released by around 8.15 pm. “All of this has been captured by different CCTV (Close Circuit Television) cameras in and around the police station, the ADGP added. The police released CCTV footage of Manikandan entering the station, speaking to a senior officer, when allegations of custodial torture in his case were raised.

“When we learned that he was a college student (studying literature in Thevar Memorial College), we informed his mother who quickly came to the station with her relative. We then released Manikandan, after completing the paperwork. He even said that he will bring the RC book of the bike he was riding and show it to the officers,” the ADGP said. 

Investigations are still on to identify the man who jumped from Manikandan’s bike and fled on spotting police officers. Manikandan was riding a two-wheeler back to his house in Mudukulathur, when he was stopped by two police officers — Lakshmanan and Premkumar — near the Keelathooval temple in Ramanathapuram. According to the ADGP, Manikandan did not stop the bike and rode on. This is when the police officers chased his bike. On being stopped, the man riding pillion escaped. The police are still investigating the identity of the man who escaped. 

“In the police report it said that the bike Manikandan was riding was stolen. We don't know if he had anything to do with that or not. However, there is no other case history with regard to Manikandan in our records,” the ADGP said.

Manikandan died at 1.30 am on December 5 and he was brought dead to the hospital. His re-post mortem was conducted in the Ramanathapuram Government Medical College and Hospital. According to his mother Ramalakshmi’s high court plea for a re-postmortem, “Manikandan said that his whole body was sore and he was murmuring that the police had beaten him in his private parts.”

The post mortem results were handed over to the RDO Paramakudi, investigating the case. A copy of the post mortem report was also submitted to the Madras High Court.

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