Muthu, 70, was taken away by Forest department personnel on July 22 for allegedly erecting an electric fence and drawing power illegally.

TN farmer died in custody of forest department officials last week
news Crime Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 11:54

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court ordered a re-postmortem to be conducted on the body of Anaikkarai Muthu, a 70-year-old farmer who died in the custody of Forest department personnel on July 22.

The court on Thursday allowed Muthu’s wife Balammal’s plea seeking an order to conduct the autopsy again. The autopsy will now be performed by a team consisting of the heads of the department of Forensic Science at the Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi Medical Colleges and a professor from Tirunelveli Medical College. The autopsy will have to be conducted following all the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Justice R Pongiappan ordered.

On Wednesday, the court had reserved the order on this petition, which sought a re-postmortem on Muthu’s body and also for those responsible for his death be booked for murder. Balammal also requested the court to pass an order transferring the probe in the case to the CB-CID and that she be given compensation for her loss.

On July 22, Muthu was taken away by Forest department personnel for allegedly erecting an electric fence around his farm and drawing power illegally. Within hours of him being taken away, his family was informed that he had been taken to the Tenkasi Government Hospital, where he died eventually. While the family denied the department’s claims and accused Forest department officers of beating Muthu in custody, the department maintained that Muthu allegedly developed chest pain and was taken to a nearby Primary Health Centre and then to the government hospital in Tenkasi.

Since Muthu died in custody, an inquiry was conducted by the Judicial Magistrate of Ambasamudram and a report was submitted to the court, which said that Muthu’s body had injuries in 18 places. The postmortem report, meanwhile, stated that there were only four injury marks, according to the court.

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