CHENNAI: A 26-year-old man died while he was in police custody on Wednesday, in what might be yet another case of high-handedness by the Chennai city police. The victim was identified as D Gopal, an accused in at least two murder cases. According to the police, Gopal, a resident of Kodungaiyur, was arrested late on Tuesday after he and an accomplice reportedly tried to murder a rival.
Following ‘interrogation’ at the police station, sources said he was rushed to Stanley Government Hospital around 12 noon by the Kodungaiyur police after he fell unconscious. He was declared brought death by the doctors.
Police officers confessed that Gopal died of injuries caused by severe beating, but wondered who was responsible for it. “He was thrashed by a few people when he attempted to murder a man called Parthiban on Tuesday night at RR Nagar. He escaped and our team managed to nab him around midnight. He had told our men at the station that he was feeling unwell. The fault from our personnel’s side is that they did not take him to hospital. They took him to hospital only after he fell unconscious,” said a police officer.
Gopal’s relatives squarely placed the blame on the police for his death. They suspect that he died while being tortured by the police. “He came to see me on Tuesday evening and left after spending some time with me. No one other than the police can be responsible for his death,” said Gopal’s father Durai.
“A few police officers came asking about him on Wednesday morning and took a photo of his. There was no proper communication from the police about his death and why he died,” said Gopal’s brother in-law Gowri Shankar. A judicial enquiry has been ordered into the incident and the post-mortem was conducted in the presence of a magistrate.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last December termed custodial deaths a travesty of justice and sensitised the police, saying “a dead man is not a mere statistic for his loved ones.”
Hardly a month later, the Chennai city police came under severe criticism when a 16-year-old boy was shot in the neck by a police inspector at Neelankarai police station. In February, a 37-year-old man died in custody of the Ashok Nagar police.