Accused seized Sidharthan’s phone to conceal torture

Inside the boy's hostel of the veterinary university. Photo: Manorama

Wayanad: The investigation officials probing the death of J S Sidharthan (21) who was found hanging at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Pookode here revealed more details about how the gang of accused tried to conceal the brutal torture and mob trial. The accused had seized Sidharthan's mobile phone to prevent him from informing his family about the assault.

The 21-year-old student was found hanging inside the toilet of the hostel on February 18 after facing brutal torture from SFI activists. Sidharrth's family had phoned him on February 16 afternoon. Despite several attempts later to contact him, they were unsuccessful. On February 17, there was still no contact. When his mother contacted one of his classmates, he assured her that everything was fine and Sidharth was sleeping.

Now, the probe team revealed that Sidharthan's phone had been in the possession of the accused throughout this period. Sidharthan had undergone brutal torture in these days. When the gang of assailants returned the phone, Sidharth then contacted his mother on February 18 morning and told her that he would come home on February 24. Tragically, the next news regarding him was his demise.

As per the latest reports, the SFI activists summoned Sidharthan after a girl raised a complaint against him for allegedly misbehaving with her. But Sidharthan's father claimed that the accused fabricated such a complaint.

Accused feared Sidharthan's moves
The police found that some of the accused had taken down Sidharth's body after breaking the toilet's door, even before the police arrived. It is learnt that the gang had kept watch the previous night, fearing Sidharth might take a drastic step. On the morning of February 18, they assessed Sidharth's condition as stable and continued to torment him in the afternoon. Subsequently, when everyone had left for food, he went to the washroom and was later found hanging. The accused also issued threats to other students to prevent them from disclosing the crime before the police.

Sidharth was found hanging inside his hostel room on February 18. Photo: Manorama

Strange arguments
During the interrogation, the accused have given various arguments in attempts to dodge the legal problems. One claimed that they summoned Sidharthan to the college due to mistaken identity, citing a wrong phone number dialled inadvertently. This justification suggested confusion as there were many students with similar names. However, questions arise regarding how he was coerced to reach the campus to address a complaint.

A few among the accused alleged that they were absent from the campus on the day of the incident to attend the Chief Minister's face-to-face programme. Others contended that the complaint filed against Sidharthan was a “precautionary measure”.

Accused in Grievance Redressal Committee
S Abhishek, an accused in the case attended the Internal Complaints Committee's meeting held eight days after Sidharth’s death. Being the student union secretary, he is also a member of the committee. This same committee had considered the girl's complaint against the deceased. Subsequently, Abhishek and five others were arrested after police questioning, leading to Abhishek's suspension from the college.

Police nabbed all 18 accused on Saturday. Photo: Manorama

Sinjo Johnson, the prime accused, was apprehended from Kalpetta. The special investigation team interrogated his parents in Odanavattom, Kollam, after which Sinjo was arrested. Though the parents played ignorant about his whereabouts, the police came to the house several times and checked their phones.

Altaf was nabbed from a relative's residence at Kollam's Karunagapally, while his own home in Thekkumbhagom remained locked for several days. The police also conducted searches in the area for Altaf.

Two days ago, the police visited Kadakkal and Chitara areas of Kollam while searching for another accused Kashinathan, son of a CPM Chitara East branch committee member and an active SFI worker. Kashinathan had returned home in the first year after complaining of ragging. He continued his studies after the CPM leaders contacted the SFI leaders of the university. Ajay was apprehended in Bengaluru while in hiding.

Protests seek justice for Sidharthan
A protest march led by Congress and KSU to the university campus turned violent on Saturday.

A group led by T. Siddique, I.C. Balakrishnan, and P.K. Jayalakshmi of the Congress broke through police barricades and entered the hostel premises.

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