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

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

Over a week after the death of 49-year old Rajkumar, a remand prisoner in Idukki, the deceased’s autopsy report reveals shocking details of custodial torture he experienced at the hands of the police. 

TNM accessed the autopsy report which highlights 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. This was mentioned in the autopsy report. 

A native of Kolahalamedu in Vagamon who was accused in a financial fraud case, Rajkumar was picked up for questioning by the Nedukandam police on June 12, according to his relatives. However, his arrest was recorded only on June 16, 4 days after he was taken into custody. 

While the post mortem mentions that pneumonia was the cause of death, it clearly states that the victim had suffered blunt force injuries. 

Multiple media reports also allege that the deceased had been denied drinking water and this had deteriorated his health condition. According to a Manorama report which quoted a fellow inmate at the Peermedu sub jail where Rajkumar was remanded, the deceased was seen begging for water and collapsing. Rajkumar’s relatives too have repeated this allegation.

“He had said that his hands and legs were hurting and requested for some water. But the officers said that he did not need to drink water now. This is what his fellow inmate had witnessed and he even spoke to the media about this,” said Antony, Rajkumar’s relative. 

Speaking to TNM, Rajkumar’s relatives had earlier said that he was beaten up for hours in his house where he was questioned before being taken into custody. 

“He was beaten up badly in his house while the police came to question him on the 12. On June 15, he was taken to the Nedukandam hospital as he complained of chest pain. The doctor there referred him to the Kottayam Medical college hospital as he had a lot of injuries. However, instead of taking him there, the officers took him to the magistrate instead and remanded him to Peermedu sub jail. He was brought to the jail at 1:20 am and he died 5 days later on June 21,”said Antony, a relative. 

On June 15, an extremely weak Rajkumar was produced before the Idukki magistrate where he was remanded to the Peermedu sub jail. . 

Following the post mortem report, the Kerala High Court has now intervened and ordered a probe against the Idukki magistrate, Reshmi Raveendran, for remanding the deceased despite him being extremely physically weak. The court has asked for a detailed report from the magistrate on the incident. 

“He was so weak he could not walk to the court and the magistrate had to come to the police vehicle to take his statement. Even after that he was remanded to judicial custody,” added Antony. 

Rajkumar breathed his last on June 21 while being admitted at Peermedu Taluk Hospital. 

A total of 8 police officers have now been suspended from the force following investigations into his death. The suspended officers include SI KA Sabu, ASI CB Rejimon, drivers Niyas and Sajimon, writer Roy P Varghese, assistant writer Syamkumar and senior civil police offices Biju Lukose and Santhosh. 

A special investigation team of the Crime Branch has been formed to probe the custodial death.