Two forest officials suspended after alleged custodial death

Two forest officials suspended, 7 transferred after alleged custodial death
Mathayi (41) was found dead in a well on his farm near here on July 28, hours after he was picked up by the forest officials for questioning.
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Pathanamthitta: The Kerala Forest Department on Monday suspended two officials following allegations with regard to the death of a person who was taken into custody by them earlier this week.

Deputy Range Officer of Chittar Forest division R Rajesh Kumar and Section Forest Officer AK Pradeep are the two officers who faced action.

The two were among the seven officials were earlier suspended in connection with the case.

Mathayi (41) was found dead in a well on his farm near here on July 28, hours after he was picked up by the forest officials for questioning regarding the destruction of a camera set up by the department for animal-spotting.

The department had claimed that the camera was destroyed in order to cover up the dumping of waste from Mathayi's farmhouse.

The department has transferred seven officials, including the Vadasserikkara Range Officer Venugopal.

R Rajesh Kumar, other forest officers - A K Pradeep Kumar, N Santhosh, V M Lekshmi, T Anil Kumar and tribal watcher E Pradeep Kumar were transferred, the department said in an order issued by the Additional Chief Conservator of Forest.

The southern region forest conservator had filed a report to the department on the lapses made by the officers, including the range officer, that Mathai was taken for evidence-gathering without registering a case.

The postmortem report said Mathayi had drowned.

The report further said there were no marks of assault on the body.

"However, we need to wait for the forensic examination of internal organs to finalise the cause of his death. There is one broken arm and is suspected to have caused when he fell into the well," a senior police official told PTI.

Mathayi's family members allege that the matter was custodial death and demanded justice.

His wife Sheebahad earlier told the media that he was taken out of his home in Chittar, Pathanamthitta, by a few officials of the Forest Department on Tuesday.

Hours later, she and her two children were informed that Mathayi was found dead in a well on his farm located 10 km from his home.

(With PTI inputs.)

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