On the morning of Wednesday 6 March a video of a young Malayali man taken right before he killed himself, emerged and spread on Facebook. The speaker was identified as Rajesh, a 30-year-old from Pala in Kottayam who was an accused in a chain snatching case registered in the Melukavu station in February. In the video, Rajesh blames his suicide on the local Sub Inspector of the Melukavu police station – SI Sandeep – and two others, alleging custodial torture and foisting of false cases on him.
“The police are saying that I am an accused in a chain snatching case. In reality, I have not stolen any chain… I was sent to the sub jail for six days and only recently came out on bail. When I spoke to a police officer who knew me well, he said that the SI Sandeep (who had booked me for the chain theft case) had also foisted over 40 cases on me, to ensure that I do not escape,” Rajesh said in his 1.56 minute Facebook video.
The Chain Snatching
On 16 February, an incident of chain snatching had taken place in Neeloor, Kottayam. The woman who lost her chain visited the Melukavu police station and filed a complaint on 20 February. On preliminary investigations, the CCTV footages of the theft were recovered and the car number of the accused was found out.
“The car was a rental taken from JJ travels. When the police further investigated this, they found that the car was hired using Rajesh’s ID card. They immediately nabbed him,” says a local source in Kottayam. A case was registered against Rajesh under sections 379 (theft) by the Melukavu SI and he was arrested on 21 February.
Apart from Rajesh, five others including Sharath, a man who Rajesh himself names as co-conspirator, were registered in the Melukavu station. Four of the five others who were booked in the case had several other criminal cases against them and were arrested in Muvattupuzha.
Rajesh admitted that he gave the chain for mortgage. However, in the video he claims that it was on the insistence of Sharath, and he was unaware that the chain was stolen.
“Sharath had told me the chain was his sister’s and that he needed it mortgaged. I took the chain for mortgaging and gave the money – Rs 36,000 that I received after the chain was weighed – directly to him. Later, I heard that I have been booked and that the police suspect that I stole the chain and gave it for mortgaging. If anybody is responsible for my death, it is the SI, Sharath, and JJ travels Managing director Jishnu,” Rajesh said in his video.
Was Rajesh Tortured?
On 22 February, Rajesh was brought before the judicial magistrate in Pala and remanded for 6 days.
“It was before the magistrate that Rajesh claimed that he was beaten up by the Melukavu police. The magistrate ordered a medical test. However, no evidence of torture or injuries were found in the test,” said DYSP Bijumon, who is investigating Rajesh’s suicide and the allegations in his video.
On 28 February, Rajesh was released on bail and six days later, he decided to end his life.
Following the allegations in Rajesh’s post against Melukavu SI Sandeep, the case of the chain snatching was shifted to the Erattupetta circle inspector.
"“Two medical tests were conducted and both showed that there was no evidence of torture or injury. Rajesh’s post-mortem report is yet to arrive, but the doctor stated that no traces of injury were identified during the autopsy. Therefore, we have not filed a case against Melukavu SI Sandeep, but are looking into the allegations by Rajesh. The chain theft case has been shifted from the Melukavu station.”" - DYSP Bijumon to The News Minute
The DYSP also confirmed that it was Rajesh who had indeed given the chain for mortgage.
“We are checking his claims, but the five others who were with him are hardened criminals. They have had several cases against them over the years,” he said.
Funeral And Protest March To Melukavu Station
Rajesh’s death has sparked several protests in Pala. Rajesh had killed himself around 11 am in his house in Pala on 6 March. On Thursday, following the funeral, which saw several local party leaders and residents in attendance, a protest march was taken out to the Melukavu police station against the alleged custodial torture and false cases foisted by the cops on Rajesh.
“It will take 2-3 days to understand what exactly happened. Rajesh’s family believes that custodial torture and foisting cases were the reasons for him to end his life. We have to speak to them to get a clearer picture,” the DSP told TNM.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute).
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