Rajkumar’s mother Kasturi and Sreejith’s mother Ramani came together on Thursday demanding justice for their sons.

Two Kerala women march to Assembly seeking justice for their sons killed in custodyRajkumar's mother Kasturi (right) and Sreejith's mother Ramani.
news Crime Thursday, July 04, 2019 - 16:30

“They could have taken my son to court. If he was proven guilty, they could have even sent him to life imprisonment. At least that way, we would have known that he was in jail and that he was alive,” Kasturi’s voice trails off. She was standing near the Martyr’s column at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram on a Thursday morning, holding a placard which read, “The police officers who murdered my son Rajkumar should be arrested and charged with murder.”

An action council under the leadership of Vishnupuram Chandrasekharan, the State President of the Kerala Kamaraj Congress, organised a protest march on Thursday morning, from the Martyr’s column to the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Their demand was to hand over the investigation of the alleged custodial murder of 49-year-old Rajkumar to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Present alongside Rajkumar’s mother Kasturi was Ramani, mother of Sreejith, who has been protesting for more than 1000 days outside the Kerala Secretariat demanding justice for the custodial murder of his brother in 2014. The protest was also to demand the immediate arrest of the senior police officials behind the alleged custodial murder of Rajkumar in the Idukki district of Kerala.

Rajkumar, who was a native of Kolahalamedu in Vagamon was arrested by the Nedumkandam police on June 12 in connection with a financial fraud case. However, his arrest was recorded only on June 16, four days after he was taken into custody. Rajkumar died on June 21 and even though the post mortem mentions that pneumonia was the cause of death, it clearly states that the victim had suffered blunt force injuries.

When TNM accessed the autopsy report, it was found that there were 22 injuries across Rajkumar’s body. Four of his ribs were also fractured apart from his sternum. Contusions detected on the soles of his feet indicate that Rajkumar was subjected to the infamous Falanga torture which involves continuously beating the soles of the victim’s feet.

Simmering anger against police and Kerala Govt

Slogans against “Pinarayi’s police” and the Kerala government were raised as Rajkumar’s mother Kasturi and protestors marched towards the Kerala Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning. This is not the first instance where the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government is coming under the line of fire regarding the issue of custodial deaths in the state. Ramesh Chennithala, the leader of the opposition had earlier alleged that this was the fifth such instance of custodial death that is being reported in the state over the last three years.

However, speaking to TNM, Rajkumar’s mother Kasturi said that she is still hanging on to the hope given by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that the guilty in the case of her son’s murder will not be spared and that strict action will be taken against them.

The Crime Branch of the Kerala Police on Wednesday arrested two officers in connection with the case - a sub inspector and a Civil Police Officer. Responding to these arrests, Kasturi said, “I don’t care about the arrest of the two police officials. Everyone involved in this including senior officers - directly or indirectly should be arrested and taken to trial.”

Poonjar MLA PC George also took part in the protest for a while and addressing the gathering he said that it’s a disgrace that such incidents are happening at a time when the Chief Minister of the state itself is the Home Minister. “Arresting one or two lower rank police officials is an attempt by the government to fool the public.”

The custodial murder of Rajkumar has turned into a political battle in the state with the opposition raising the issue in the Assembly.

Also read: 22 injuries, 'Falanga' torture used: Shocking autopsy of Kerala custodial death victim

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