August 13, 2016
Thanjavur: In a suspected instance of custodial death, a 65-year-old resident of Thirupuambiam village near Kumbakonam, who had been taken to the police station for interrogation in connection with the missing of a four-year-old boy, died a few hours after he was admitted to the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital last night with a head injury.
The CPI (M) district secretary, R Manokaran, alleged that Selvaraj sustained head injury, fell unconscious, and subsequently died in the hospital because he had been severely beaten by police at the police station during interrogation.
He also claimed that, after Selvaraj died, police threatened and forcibly obtained the signature of the deceased’s son, Praveen Raj, and attempted to hand over the body without conducting the mandatory post-mortem.
Manokaran demanded that a murder case be immediately registered against the cops involved in Selvaraj’s death, and since the victim was a Dalit, a case should also be registered under the f SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Selvaraj’s son Praveen Raj (27), working at Thirupurambiam panchayat office as sanitary worker, claimed that the police took him to the Kumbakonam Government Hospital yesterday, stating that his father had become unconscious, with a head injury, at the Kumbakonam bus stand and was admitted to the hospital. “When I visited the GH, I found him in unconscious state. Later, he was referred and admitted to the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital. A few hours later, he died,” Praveen Raj said.
Police have denied all the allegations. “Selvaraj had asthma complaint. During interrogation, he suffered breathlessness and fell unconscious causing him a head injury. His body was handed over to his relatives after properly conducting a post-mortem,” a senior police officer said.
Trouble started when a four-year-old Abdul Salam, son of Dilsath Beevi, of Vikravandi village in Villupuram district, went missing in Kumbakonnam on June 15.
Dilsath Beevi, along with her family, visited Kumbakonam on June 15. She went out after leaving her three children under the care of her mother, Hasina Beevi, at the bus stand. When she returned in the evening, she found her four-year-old son, Abdul Salam, missing.
Based on her complaint, the Kumbakonam West police conducted an inquiry. Preliminary inquiry revealed that the boy was last seen playing with Selvaraj in the bus stand before he went missing.
Since then on, Selvaraj, who used to seek alms at the bus stand, went missing too. The police traced and found Selvaraj on Thursday, and took him for inquiry to the police outpost at Kabisthalam, where he fell unconscious and sustained head injuries on Friday, police said.
Photos: Relatives of Selvaraj outside the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, where the deceased’s body was handed over to them after post-mortem.