Kerala auto driver died of custodial torture, say kin

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Kannur (Kerala), May 14 (IANS) Even as an SIT is probing an alleged custodial death near Kochi, the family of an auto-rickshaw driver have accused police of torturing him in custody, leading to his death on May 2.

The family has complained to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and sought action against police officials responsible for the death of Unnais, who hailed from the chief minister home village of Pinarayi near here.

A letter written by Unnais and recovered after his death allegedly showed that he was tortured by police in custody.

According to the kin of Unnais, he was taken into custody on February 22 by Kannur police and beaten up for hours. “On February 24, he was admitted to a hospital, after he passsed blood in urine and mouth,” said a relative.

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The family claimed that despite approaching police with hospital records that said that the death was caused by police excess, police did not even take their complaint.

State Human Rights Commission Acting Chairman P. Mohana Das on Monday told the media that he will visit Unnais’ house on Tuesday.

“Reports of police excesses and torture have come from a few places. It is shocking news as it was kept under wraps for so long and amounts to serious lapse on part of the police. Tomorrow (Tuesday), I will visit the house of Unnais,” Das said.

Earlier in the day, Vijayan in his address at a police passing-out parade said that “sporadic” incidents of excesses bring a bad name for police and that strict action would be taken against those responsible, irrespective of their rank or position.

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The latest case comes even as a special investigation team is probing the custodial death of Sreejith, 26, near Kochi.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded a probe into the death of Unnais and slammed Vijayan for terming such cases as “sporadic”.

“The Chief Minister and his office are behaving as if they are running a party office. No action is taken against wrongdoers… the sooner it ends, the better,” the Congress leader said.

State Congress President M.M. Hassan said that even people from Vijayan’s village are not safe.

“Kerala police is divided between followers of CPI-M and those who are not. It is the root cause of all recent happenings. You have a chief minister who supports these inhuman acts,” said Hassan.


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