Pathanamthitta man's body found in well after forest officials took him into custody

Pathanamthitta man's body found in well after forest officials took him into custody

Seethathodu (Pathanamthitta): The Forest Department has launched an investigation into the death of PP Mathai (Ponnumon, 41) of Padinjarceruvu in Kudappana after his body was found in a well under mysterious circumstances.

A departmental inquiry is being conducted by a special team headed by Southern Circle Chief Forest Conservator Sanjayan Kumar. The team will submit its report in two days.

Seven forest officials, including the deputy ranger of the Chittar forest station who took Mathai into custody from his home, have been asked to go on compulsory leave.

Mathai was taken into custody by the forest rangers on Tuesday evening for allegedly damaging a forest camera. His body was found in a well near his house at night.

The forest department ordered an inquiry in the wake of strong protests from local people following Mathai’s death.

Relatives allege that he was beaten to death by forest department officials and his body thrown into the well. Mathai's wife Sheeba alleged that forest officials killed her husband.

As locals assembled and started protesting against the death, top forest officials arrived at the spot. The body was then taken from the well at midnight. It has been taken to a hospital in Pathanamthitta for postmortem, which will be done today if the COVID test result is negative.

District Police Chief KG Simon visited the spot and took the complaint of Mathai’s relatives. He said there will be a thorough investigation into the death.

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