Manikandan, a 22-year-old college student, died hours after being released from police custody on December 4.

Manikandan in a blue shirt
news Custodial Violence Thursday, December 09, 2021 - 17:33

The re-postmortem of the body of Manikandan, a young man from Ramanathapuram who died hours after he was released from police custody on December 4, was completed on Wednesday, December 8. The second autopsy was done at the Ramanathapuram Government Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday, on the orders of the Madras High Court. According to reports, the details of the first and second postmortems will be submitted before the High Court on Monday, December 13.

Manikandan’s family alleged that he died due to custodial torture by the police. As per the affidavit of Manikandan’s mother Ramalakshmi, the first post mortem report of Manikandan did not confirm his cause of death. On December 7, based on Ramalakshmi's petition, the court had issued orders for a re-postmortem of his body to identify evidence of violence, and that the procedure is fully captured on video.

According to Ramalakshmi’s petition, her 22-year-old college-going son died after he was beaten up by the police at the Keelathooval police station. Manikandan was returning home on his bike with two of his friends when he was stopped by two police officers — Lakshmanan and Premkumar — near the Keelathooval temple in Ramanathapuram. The young man, however, did not stop. The police chased and caught him. While his friends escaped, Manikandan was taken to the station and questioned for three hours.

The mother’s affidavit said that Manikandan was picked up by the police and taken for questioning around 4 pm on December 4. After a while, the police called his mother and asked her to pick up Manikandan from the station. "Thereafter, I, along with my younger son, at 6.07 pm, went to the police station. Here, I was urged by two police officers, Lakshmi and Karpagam, to take my son home as early as possible. When I enquired as to why they were urging me to take my son, they said for no reason,” the affidavit said.

His mother, in the petition, said that when she took his son from the police station, he was not in a stable condition. "He said that he had pain all over his body, and he was also murmuring that he had been beaten up by the police in his private parts,” Ramalakshmi’s affidavit read.

The petition also stated that Manikandan had vomited blood three times before he was found lying motionless in his house around 1.30 am that night. He was then rushed to the Mudkulathur Government Hospital, where he was declared dead.

The young man’s family then blocked the road near the hospital in protest, alleging that the police had tortured and injured Manikandan in custody. The family also refused to accept Manikandan’s body, which is kept at the Ramanathapuram Government Hospital.

Police deny allegations

Denying allegations of custodial violence, Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police E Karthik IPS said that the police station has CCTV footage, audio recording and other evidence to show that Manikandan was not beaten up. The police did not register an FIR (First Information Report); he was only warned and released, the SP said.

Before he was sent back home, the police officers at the Keelathooval station also clicked a picture of Manikandan along with his mother. The police even released footage of Manikandan entering the station and being questioned, to prove that there was no violence.

However, Manikandan’s mother alleged that the police had questioned her son for three hours while the CCTV footage released by the police was only for two minutes.

Issuing an order for re-postmortem on December 7, 2021, judge GR Swaminathan had asked the police to ensure that there are no law and order problems in the district due to this. The judge also asked the Ramanathapuram police to provide security to Manikandan’s mortal remains while it is being shifted from the Government Hospital to his house. The order also asked Manikandan’s mother to accept his body after the post mortem, as the family had earlier refused to accept it.

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