More Kerala cops charged in custodial death of youth

it was later believed that the entire episode had been a case of mistaken identity

Thiruvananthapuram: The names of four more policemen have been added to the list of accused in the custodial death of a youth, S.R. Sreejith, in early April.

Varapuzha on the outskirts of Kochi, Kerala, has been simmering in anger ever since the death of Sreejith, who is believed to have been brutally beaten up at the time of his arrest from home, inside the vehicle when he was being taken to the police station, and at the police station thereafter.

To add to people’s fury, it was later believed the entire episode had been a case of mistaken identity, and that it was a different Sreejith who the police had wanted to arrest.

The incident has been come as a political setback for the ruling Communist Party of India Marxist, in which chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan holds the home portfolio.

The four policemen listed as accused on Thursday are sub inspectors Jayanandan and Santosh Baby, and civil police officers Sunil Kumar and Sreeraj. They face many charges, including illegal confinement and concealing the fact that Sreejith had been tortured in custody.

Earlier this week, the case took a major turn as the rural superintendent of police who oversees the Varappuzha station, A.V. George was also questioned. The allegation is that it was under his instruction that a special Rural Tiger Force reporting directly to him had taken Sreejith into custody, short-circuiting the local police station.

The deceased S.R. Sreejith’s tale of misfortune began with the suicide of one of his neighbours, K.M. Vasudevan, 54, apparently after he was threatened after a scuffle with some local persons. Vasudevan’s son gave a list of suspects in connection with his father’s death to the police, which reportedly included one Sreejith, but not S.R. Sreejith.

Earlier, the Varapuzha sub inspector G.S. Deepak and three civil police officers, Jithin Raj, Santosh Kumar and Sumesh were listed as accused.

Significantly, the charges against more policemen comes on a day when local media quoted intelligence sources as saying that political activism was rife in the state police force.

The intelligence report was learnt to state that the remembrance of martyrs at police association meetings ought to be avoided, and that such practices would threaten the credibility of the police force.

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