Vignesh custodial death: CB-CID files chargesheet against six accused cops

All six accused, who were arrested on May 7, were earlier released on bail after the CB-CID failed to file the chargesheet against them within 90 days of the arrest.
Chennai custodial violence victim Vignesh
Chennai custodial violence victim Vignesh
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The Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) on Monday, November 28, filed a chargesheet against six policemen allegedly involved in the custodial death of 25-year-old Vignesh on April 19 this year. The chargesheet of more than 1,000 pages, filed at the Chennai Sessions Court, detailed the incident with statements from 217 witnesses, 290 documents, and 64 pieces of evidence.

The latest development comes a month after the Madras High Court, on October 31, dismissed a petition seeking the transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). While dismissing a petition filed by Vignesh's brother Vinoth, Justice V Sivagnanam had observed that the CB-CID’s investigation in the case was satisfactory. Vinoth had approached the court seeking to transfer the case to the CBI and further direct the central agency to file a periodic investigation report before the HC.

It was on May 7 that six policemen — head constables Kumar and Pavan Raj, writer Munaf, Home Guard Deepak, and two Armed Reserve (AR) police personnel Jegajeevan and Chandrakumar —  were arrested in connection with the case. Considering Vignesh’s Dalit status, the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had also been invoked against the accused. All six policemen were later released on bail on August 8, after the CB-CID failed to file the chargesheet against them within 90 days of the arrest.

Vignesh, who used to offer horse rides at Chennai's Marina beach, was taken into custody along with his friend Suresh, a construction worker, on April 18 by the G5 Secretariat Colony police station. A day later, Vignesh died. The police subequently claimed that he had a seizure and died while he was being rushed to the hospital. However, his family members alleged foul play in his death.

Initially, a police sub-inspector, a constable, and a member of the Home Guards were suspended. The case was transferred to the CB-CID on April 22 after family members pointed out the contradictions in the inquiry process and the police's claims.

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