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Kerala custodial death: Mother conducts protest march, HC orders probe against magistrate for sending a weak Rajkumar to judicial custody

The Kerala High Court has questioned the magistrate's decision to remand Rajkumar to judicial custody despite being in such weak physical condition

For the past few days, the CPM led Kerala government has come under severe criticism after Rajkumar, a 49-year-old man from Idukki, died after he was taken into custody by the police. Demanding justice, Rajkumar’s mother Kasthuri conducted a protest march today to the Secretariat, demanding CBI probe into her son’s death.

The protest was organised by Raj Kumar Action Council, which was formed to demand justice for Raj Kumar. The had demanded a CBI probe and action against several senior officers for their alleged involvement in the case.

“They could have taken my son to court. If he was proven guilty, they could have even sent him to life imprisonment. At least that way, we would have known that he was in jail and that he was alive”, said Kasthuri while she attended the protest today.

Protesters held up placards that read, “The police officers who murdered my son Rajkumar should be arrested and charged with murder.”

Rajkumar was a native of Kolahalamedu in Vagamon. On June 12, he was arrested by Nedumkandam police for a financial fraud case. As per this report, he was kept in custody for four days before which he was presented to the court on June 16, following which he was remanded to judicial custody. On June 21, he was admitted to the Peermedu taluk hospital and declared dead soon after reaching.

After the preliminary investigation was conducted, 4 officers from the Nedumkandam police station including the SI was arrested. Six others have been transferred after discovering irregularities.

Rajkumar’s autopsy report reveals that he died from pneumonia. It also revealed that he was brutally tortured and beaten up while he was in custody. As per reports, he was so weak that he couldn’t even walk to the court. The magistrate had to walk to his jeep after which he was kept in judicial custody.

After the post-mortem, the Kerala High court had asked for a detailed report on the procedure followed by the magistrate. The court has ordered a probe against the magistrate for sending Rajkumar to judicial custody despite being in such a weak physical condition.

Yesterday, the Crime Branch of the Kerala Police arrested two other officers in connection to the case. Sub Inspector K.A. Sabu and Civil Police Officer Sajeev Antony both testified to the prolonged torture and brutal interrogation of Rajkumar in police custody.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured that justice would be served. He said, “No one has the right to keep a person in custody illegally and beat him to death. Such persons will no longer be there in the force. The government views the latest death seriously and we will take strict action against those responsible for this”.

However, the Opposition has alleged that this the fifth case of custodial death ever since the CPM party had come to power in 2016. Senior Congres leader Ramesh Chennithala said, “the police will always protect the police. This is a brutal killing. In the last three years, there have been five custodial deaths. There has to be a judicial probe”.

The Kerala Police had also earlier said that it suspected the unholy business nexus between local leaders of the CPI(M) and law enforcers had resulted in Rajkumar’s death.

Recently, former IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt was sentenced to life imprisonment in a custodial death case while he was the ASP in Jamnagar, Gujarat in 1989.

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