The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the Nedumkandam custodial death case pertaining to the death of a 49-year-old remand prisoner filed a charge sheet against nine police officers on Thursday.
The police officers, all from the Nedumkandam police station in Idukki, have been booked under various charges, including murder. The agency filed the charge sheet at a special court in Ernakulam.
It was in June 2019 that Rajkumar was taken into custody by officials of the Nedumkandam police station in connection with a financial fraud case. Rajkumar had been running a small financial enterprise named Haritha Financiers in the town and people had protested against him alleging that he collected money from them promising good interest rates.
Rajkumar was allegedly kept in police custody illegally for four days from 12 June 2019, before his arrest was recorded. Police officials allegedly tortured him brutally leading to his death on 21 June after he was admitted to a hospital when he showed severe discomfort while being lodged at the Peerumedu sub-jail.
The post mortem report stated he had over 20 wounds on his body, including severe fractures in his ribs and sternum.
The then Sub-Inspector of Nedumkandam police station KA Sabu is named as the first accused in the case, followed by Assistant Sub-Inspector Regimon CB, Constable Niyas, Head Constable Sajive Antony, Home Guard James, Constable Jithin, ASI Roy P Verghese, Head Constable Biju Lucose, and Geetha Gopinath, another police officer.
The nine have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 343 (Wrongful confinement for three or more days), 348 ( Wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel restoration of property), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 330 (Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession, or to compel restoration of property), 331 (Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession, or to compel restoration of property), 302 (Punishment for murder), read with 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 109 (Commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of the body), 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 167 (Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury) and 193 (Punishment for false evidence).
In the charge sheet, the CBI stated that Rajkumar was kept in custody illegally for four days and brutally assaulted, resulting in his death. The CBI also added that a woman named Shalini, another accused who was booked along with Rajkumar in the financial case, was also assaulted. The police are also accused of fabricating documents against Rajkumar.
The CBI submitted the charge sheet citing 152 witnesses, 145 documents, and 32 material objects. Notably, it will continue the investigation against other higher officials.
The case, which was probed by the Crime Branch, was handed over to the CBI in January 2020 following an order by the Kerala High Court.
(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)