Custodial torture: Murder charges against 6 jailers

Custodial torture: Murder charges against 6 jailers
The accused being brought to the Govt General Hospital, Thrissur, for medical checkup. Shemeer in the inset.

Thrissur: Half a dozen jail personnel in Kerala have been booked for the murder of a 31-year-old youth who was an accused in a narcotics case. The victim was under surveillance for COVID-19 at a quarantine centre when he was subjected to inhuman torture which led to his death a day later on October 1.

Shemeer, 31, of Thiruvananthapuram was arrested with 10 kg ganja on September 29 and was admitted to the Medical College Hospital in an unconscious state on the night of September 30. He succumbed to his injuries the next day.

The youth had sustained 40 injuries on his body besides internal injuries to organs and fractured ribs. While he was being admitted to the Trissur Medical College Hospital, the jail staff told the hospital authorities that Shemeer was an epileptic and he had sustained serious injuries due to a fall.

However, on seeing the extent of injuries on his body, the hospital staff became suspicious. Later the post-mortem report revealed that Shemeer died due to the internal injuries caused by 40 wounds and head injury.

Shemeer was brutally tortured for more than 24 hours, claimed several people who deposed before the Crime Branch.

The arrested officials of the Viyyur jail here have been identified as deputy prison officers M S Arun, 35, of Kalavur; V S Subhash, 24, Kollemcode, Palakkad; assistant prison officers T V Vivek, 30, of Njarakkal, Ernakulam, M R Ramesh,33, of Cherai in Kochi; Pratheesh, 32 of Chembu in Vaikkom, Kottayam; assistant jail superintendent Athul, 27, of Puthuvalvilla in Thiruvananthapuram.

All the accused were slapped with murder charges remanded in custody by a local court here. The Crime branch had taken up the probe into the custodial murder.

All the accused were subjected for medical examination.

Earlier Prisons DGP Rishiraj Singh had placed the accused under suspension. Besides, Viyyur District Jail superintendent Raju Abraham and assistant prison officer Riju had also been suspended for serious supervisory lapses.

Shemeer was in quarantine at the Ambilikala Hostel. Soon after the news regarding the brutal assault on ganja case accused came in the media, the DGP had ordered the jail authorities to shut down the quarantine centre and opened a new one within the jail premises.

20 others likely assaulted

As many as 20 persons have given statements to the police and Crime Branch alleging that they had to bear serious assault during their stay at the quarantine centre. The brutal assault on a minor, who was arrested in connection with a vehicle theft case, had triggered a major controversy. Subsequently, the jail DGP had suspended two jail staff and superintendent in connection with the case.

It has also been alleged that women inmates of the jail were made to undress in front of others.

All these allegations are being looked into as part of the current probe, the Crime Branch stated.

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