The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Nervazhi, a human rights organisation based in Kerala, concerning the case of custodial death and police torture of a person by a police officer stationed at Anthikkad police station. It is reported that, the police officer in civil dress, chased the victim while he was riding a motorcycle. The victim panicked when he saw an unknown person chasing him and later fell down from the motorcycle, collapsed and died on the street. It is alleged that the police officer stopped the victim’s motorcycle by hitting it with the officer’s vehicle and further prevented the public from helping the victim seek medical assistance.
A fact-finding report by Nervazhi reveals the following facts. The deceased victim in the case is Mr. Rajan, a laborer in a local toddy shop. He works at a place called Padinjattumuri in Puthanchira, Mala in Thrissur district. His family included his wife and two daughters.
On 19 February at about 11.15 am, Rajan went to a place named Kizhuppillikara on his motorbike bearing registration number KL-8-3617. Because of the tropical heat he did not wear a helmet while riding the motorbike. When he reached Peringottukara, a place near his house, the accused in the case, later identified as a police constable in civilian dress waved his hand asking Rajan to stop. Since the officer was in civilian dress and was unknown to the victim, the victim ignored the accused and did not stop.
It is reported that the officer then started chasing Rajan on another bike. The chase continued for about 10 kilometers. When both vehicles reached a place named Pazhuvil road, the accused ran his bike into Rajan’s bike and forced him to stop. In the impact Rajan fell down from his bike. The officer shouted absolute filth at Rajan and vigorously shook the handle of the motorbike in which Rajan was riding. Then the officer removed the key from Rajan’s motorbike. All the while Rajan lay on the road without being able to move or speak.
Mrs. Jalaja Prasanan, the elected member to the local (Cherpu) Grama Panchayat was witnessing the incident. Some people of the locality also gathered at the spot. They thought that an accident had taken place. When the people gathered at the scene, the accused shouted at the people asking not to touch the victim or to seek medical help. He accused Rajan that he had fallen down since he was drunk and that he will get up and leave when he regains his senses. The accused however did not explain, how he could come to such a conclusion without conducting a blood or breath test. Even if someone is drunk, and driving there is no reason why he should stop when a stranger asks him to stop and a civilian police constable has no authority whatsoever to chase a person without reason.
When the crowd expressed that the accused’s acts are not acceptable and is inhumane, the accused revealed his identity and said that he is a police constable from Anthikkadu Police Station. He said his name is Densemon and that he had asked Rajan to stop, finding that Rajan was not wearing a helmet while riding a bike. He also said that he chased Rajan to book him, since he has violated the law. Densemon then telephoned to Anthikkad Police Station and requested the officer who answered the call to take him to the police station.
The crowd started getting angry at the manner in which Densemon behaved. At the time Prasannan, the husband of the grama panchayat member Jalaja, tried to apply some water on Rajan’s face. Rajan however did not respond. Densemon at the time shouted at Prasannan that Rajan is unable to respond since he was drunk.
Even after about an hour no one from the police station came to the scene. The crowd started agitating and one of the persons called for an ambulance, from a public service named ACTS. When the ACTS ambulance arrived at the scene, the para-medical officers suspected that Rajan had already died on the spot. Densemon at the time tried to prevent the people from getting Rajan into the ambulance demanding that Rajan cannot be moved from the scene until senior police officers arrived. However, ACTS took Rajan to a private medical centre at Cherpu. The doctor at the centre came to the ambulance and said that Rajan cannot be treated at his centre and asked the ACTS to take Rajan to another hospital nearby, in the name Elite hospital at a place named Koorkanchery.
However Rajan arrived dead at the Elite hospital. Despite all this, the police have registered only a case of unnatural death in the case. Densemon, the officer who in fact killed Rajan remains free.
Failure to wear a helmet attracts a fine of Rupees 100. It is reported that Densemon the police officer involved in the case has a habit of stopping vehicles by the road and demanding bribes from drivers who violate traffic rules. It is also reported that Densemon do this while wearing no uniform. In fact a police constable, not wearing a uniform has no legal authority to stop and search a vehicle in India. Neither does a police constable has an authority to do so, unless accompanied by a police officer not below the rank of a Sub Inspector of police.
Though the people who arrived at the scene wanted to travel with Rajan when he was sent to the police station, Densemon refused to allow any civilian into the vehicle. A colleague of Densemon who arrived at the scene also accompanied Densemon. It is clear from the facts of this case that Densemon has to be charged with a case of culpable homicide and for causing custodial death, than registering a case of unnatural death.
On a similar footing it is also important to note that the first hospital where Rajan was produced also must be investigated. The Supreme Court of India in Parmand Katra Vs. Union of India reported in All India Reporter 1989 Supreme Court page 2039 has laid down the principle that ”preservation of human life is of paramount importance. That is so on account of the fact that once life is lost, the status quo cannot be restored as resurrection is beyond the capacity of [human] man. The patient whether he be an innocent person or be a criminal liable to punishment under the laws of the society, it is the obligation of those who are in charge of the health of the community to preserve life so that the innocent may be protected and the guilty may be punished.” “Every injured citizen brought for medical treatment should instantaneously be given medical aid to preserve life and thereafter the procedural criminal law should be allowed to operate in order to avoid negligent death …” On that count, that Rajan being referred to another hospital by the private medical centre at the first instance also should be investigated.
The supreme court of India in Aravinder Singh Bagga vs. State of Utter Pradesh reported in All India Reporter 1994 has laid down that the state shall pay compensation to all persons illegally detained and humiliated for no fault of theirs. The victim in this case is a poor laborer. The incident once again illuminates the fact that discipline, corruption and impunity is widespread in the state police. It must be investigated, the suspect brought to trial and the victim’s family compensated.
Please write to the authorities listed below requesting their urgent intervention in this case. The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment calling for an intervention in this case.
Source : www.humanrights.asia