Terminate cops responsible for custodial torture or death: Kerala Human Rights panel

Kerala Human Rights Commission submitted a report to the state government after visiting the Nedumkandam police station and Perrmade sub-jail following Rajkumar’s custodial death.
Terminate cops responsible for custodial torture or death: Kerala Human Rights panel
Terminate cops responsible for custodial torture or death: Kerala Human Rights panel
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The Kerala Human Rights Commission, in a report submitted to the state government on custodial death of finance dealer Rajkumar, has stated that police officials responsible for custodial torture and deaths should be terminated from service. The Commission Chairperson, Justice Antony Dominic, in its directive said that government should award exemplary punishment to officials in such cases.

The directive was submitted to the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department after the Commission visited the Nedumkandam police station and Peermade sub-jail.

The Commission has also raised several shortcomings from the part of police in the way Rajkumar was treated.

Rajkumar, 49-year-old small-time financial agent, died on June 21 after allegedly being subjected to brutal third-degree torture at the Nedumkandam police station in Idukki.

He was taken into police custody in a financial fraud case on June 12 and kept at the Nedumkandam station until his arrest was recorded on June 15. He was produced in the Magisterial Court on June 16. 

In the wee hours of June 17, at 1.20 am, the Nedumkandam police brought Rajkumar to the Peermade sub-jail. 

An Assistant Prison Officer, who gave a statement to the Commission, said that “unusually” the police vehicle entered the sub-jail premises and only then Rajkumar got out from the vehicle. “Rajkumar was found to be sick and was not able to walk. The cops had to support him to walk to the prison cell,” the Commission said in a statement released on Thursday.

The officials of Peermade sub-jail also told the Commission that Rajkumar had said that he hurt his leg when he fell while running. Prison officials also added that Rajkumar said there was no need to go to a hospital. The jail superintendent also told the Commission that Rajkumar had written this as a statement and gave his thumb impression as the signature. 

The Commission observed that it was strange that Rajkumar, who was physically weak, was made to write and sign the statement saying his leg was hurt since he fell down.

Meanwhile, a co-inmate of the cell told the Commission that Rajkumar had told him that the police had tortured him. The inmate also said that Rajkumar was in a bad condition and was not able to sit or stand and that he was not tortured after he was put in the prison.

The same day, on June 17, Rajkumar’s condition started deteriorating and was taken to hospital, although the next day. 

“The statement of the prison officials, that Rajkumar looked fine and that was why he was not moved to a hospital, is not believable. If he was okay, why did the officials asked for an escort from Armed Reserve police camp in Idukki to take him to the hospital?” asked the Commission.

Justice Antony Dominic also pointed out that, though prison officials did not get the escort, it was grave misconduct that Rajkumar was not taken to hospital in the ambulance available there.

According to the Commission’s statement, Rajkumar was taken to hospital on June 18, and was undergoing treatment at Kottayam Medical College on June 18 and June 19. On June 21, after he had difficulty in breathing, Rajkumar was admitted to Peermade Taluk hospital in Idukki, where he died.

The Commission states that the delay in giving proper treatment to Rajkumar could have a led to his death. The Commission also states that it was not able to check the official records at Nedumkandam police station when they reached there. They were told that the records were taken by the Crime Branch officials.

The Commission expressed concern whether police officials in Nedumkandam station is open to an inquiry. “Although the Commission gave prior intimation about their arrival to the station for the inquiry, the Station Home Officer had sent the police officer, who knew the case well, for another duty,” the release states.

Directives to doctors, government officials

The Commission has also issued a directive that doctors who conduct medical examination should check them accurately and observe things impartially in the report. The medical report should also be written in a way that is legible to everyone.

Prison superintendents should make sure that information about admitting an inmate to a hospital or their deaths should be passed on to the family of the person in a timely manner.

The Commission has also directed the government to submit a report within two months about the actions taken on its report.

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