“I only wanted them to back off”, Ranjan, the Kerala man who succumbed to burns after he was accidentally set on fire on December 22 said from the hospital bed, hours before dying. It is being reported that he was trying to thwart an attempt by Kerala police to evict his family from their house. 47-year-old Rajan, who was admitted in a critical condition to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, passed away on December 27 (Sunday) night. His wife, Ambili (40) too succumbed to her injuries the next day.
While the woman, Ambili, 40, suffered 60 per cent burns during the incident, her husband Rajan, 47, suffered 75 per cent burns and his kidneys and other internal organs were damaged due to burns. They were admitted to the Burn ICU of the MCH on December 22.
In what transpired, on December 22 officials of the Neyyattinkara police station and a judicial commission appointed by a Neyyattinkara court had gone to Rajan’s house at Nellimoodu, asking the family to vacate the house immediately, to implement a court order. The move to evict his family came on the basis of a complaint by one of Ranjan’s neighbour in June, according to reports in Malayalam media. The couple had threatened to end life by suicide in a bid to prevent authorities from demolishing a shed near their house at Pongil near Venpakal in Neyyattinkara.
In a video which was widely shared on social media, Rajan could be seen pouring petrol over him and his wife, asking officials not to come closer to him. The couple caught fire when a police official, reportedly Assistant Sub-Inspector Anil Kumar, came close to the couple and attempted to knock the lighter out of his hand.
We can clearly see how the police hit his hand so that the lit lighter falls on his hand.— Sahil Shenoy (@sahilshenoy3) December 29, 2020
After the death of the Kerala couple, their two sons took to social media and alleged police forced their parents to commit suicide. They held Assistant Sub-Inspector Anil Kumar responsible for the death of their parents. “The police were in a haste to evict them as they knew that there would be a stay order and pointed out that it came soon after the incident. The counsel whom my father assigned first for the case betrayed him. The police and the plaintiff knew that there would be a stay on the (Munsiff) court order and hence the police came to evict us. It was Anil Kumar who is responsible for this,” Rajan’s son, Ranjith, alleged.
The children confirmed that 20 minutes after the incident happened, the court issued a stay on the eviction. Talking to media, Rajan’s two children could be seen desperately wailing for help, to bury their father in the disputed land, as per his last wish.
The police, however, refuted the allegation. “It is our duty to provide security and protect the commission. We never provoked anyone. Rajan and his wife had planned this. Their elder son shot the entire incident on his mobile phone. In the video itself it is evident that the police did nothing to harm them,” said Neyyattinkara CI T Sreekumaran Nair.