Senior officers to be quizzed in Kumar custody death case

Former Idukki district chief K B Venugopal
Former Idukki district chief K B Venugopal.

Nedumkandam: The Crime Branch has initiated proceedings to question the senior cops, including the former Idukki district chief K B Venugopal, against whom allegations have been raised in the custody death of Kumar.

Former Nedumkandam DySP, former special branch DySP, and former Nedumkandam CI are also likely to be questioned, it was said. The Crime Branch has also initiated procedures to seek permission from the Home Department to question the senior officers.

Vagamon native Raj Kumar, an accused in a financial fraud case, died while in police custody due to alleged torture in June.

Ex-SI Sabu sticks to his statements

Crime Branch IG Gopesh Agarwal had visited the Nedumkandam camp office on Wednesday to evaluate the probe progress and held talks with the officers, it was said. This is IG's third visit to the camp office at Nedumkandam rest house in a week.

First accused in the case, former Nedumkandam SI K A Sabu, was questioned by IG Gopesh Agarwal.

In his statement to the Crime Branch, Sabu had said that he kept Kumar in custody with the permission of senior officers. Sabu has reiterated his earlier statement. With Sabu standing his statements, the probe is likely to be extended to the senior officers.

The Crime Branch was given the custody of Sabu for a single day.

As the custody period ended, Sabu was presented before the Peermade court and remanded to the Devikulam sub-jail.

The IG was reportedly satisfied with the investigation carried out by the Crime Branch team. The probe team had checked the statements of cops, who were on duty at the Nedumkandam police station on June 12 to 16. The team has decided to re-examine them and question the cops again after discrepancies were found in the statements.

Meanwhile, the Peermade first class magistrate court rejected the bail plea of Nedumkandam ASI C B Rejimon, and driver S Niyas, who were arrested recently. Both of them are in remand at the Devikulam sub-jail. Four people have been arrested in the case so far.

Probe would be extended beyond the cops

Thiruvananthapuram: If officers in other government departments or any other person was found to be responsible or made any fallout in the custody death case, they would be included in the purview of the judicial probe, the cabinet that met on Wednesday decided.

The judicial commission led by Justice (retired) Narayana Kurup can start the probe soon as the cabinet has given approval for the areas to be investigated. The commission would examine the role of jail officers, apart from the cops. The events that led to Kumar's arrest and the incidents leading to the death while in custody would also be probed.

The commission would have to give recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future.

Room 101 at Nedumkandam station?

The room next to the bathroom in the first floor of the Nedumkandam police station almost falls in line with torture chamber 'room 101' in Orwell's dystopian novel 1984. It is here that accused and culprits are subjected to inhuman torture. The room built as a space for cops to relax has become a nightmare for prisoners.

A long wooden sheet mounted on top of cement bricks, a metal box, a wooden box, six plastic chairs, and one iron chair are the articles in this 'assault room'. Only the cops know what is being stored in these boxes.

Once the door of the room is shut, the outside world will have no clue about what is happening inside. Even if one cries out in agony, a sound will not escape the room.

It was in this room that Kumar was allegedly subjected to custodial torture and brutal assault. Kumar was taken into custody on June 12. He was then brought to this room and continuously assaulted till June 14, it was said.

The cops reportedly rubbed green chillies on Kumar's body. Writhing in pain, Kumar vomited in this room. Irked by this, the cops reportedly stomped him. Once the vomit was cleaned, the cops continued with the assault, it was said.

This room was witness as the cops stood on his thighs, and hit him with the baton.

Unable to bear the torture, Kumar collapsed on to the floor. He was then taken to the relaxation room in the second floor. After giving him a massage, he was assaulted again.

The Nedumkandam police station functions as a two-storeyed building. Former SI Sabu was brought to this room for evidence gathering. The Crime Branch team spent considerable time in this room.