Custodial torture case becomes a test for TN Govt

In the initial probe, the sub-collector refused to record some victims’ statements but recorded that of a victim who had turned hostile.

Published: 21st April 2023 01:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2023 01:21 AM   |  A+A-

Custodial torture, custodial death

Image for representational purpose. (Express Illustration)

The Ambasamudram custodial torture case involving an IPS officer has shaken the collective psyche in Tamil Nadu and put the government on the spot. Neither the custodial death of an Adivasi man depicted in the critically acclaimed movie Jai Bhim nor the brutal Thoothukudi custodial murder of the father-son duo have ended the continuing horror of custodial violence and torture in TN. What made the Ambasamudram case more disturbing was how the government handled it by announcing probe after probe. After the first victim narrated his horrifying account of the torture, it took over three weeks to register an FIR against the suspended assistant superintendent of police Balveer Singh and other police personnel allegedly involved in the crime. According to the victims, the ASP allegedly broke the teeth of several suspects using pliers and stones with the help of others. A series of probes since then, making victims repeatedly narrate their traumatic experiences, has sparked public outrage. Though an FIR was finally registered, no arrests have been made.

It all began on March 26, when some victims, including two minors, claimed that the cops removed their teeth and crushed the testicles of at least two of them at Ambasamudram police station on March 10. A recorded video they released went viral on social media. In the initial probe, the sub-collector refused to record some victims’ statements but recorded that of a victim who had turned hostile. However, the victim, who had gone into hiding, blamed his U-turn on the police’s arm-twisting. Strangely, the CCTV footage from one of the police stations was found missing.

Addressing the legislative assembly, the chief minister said he had ordered the suspension of Singh on March 29. On April 7, the state government ordered a high-level inquiry by the senior IAS officer P Amudha, which the victims initially boycotted. On April 19, the DGP transferred the custodial torture case to CB-CID. As the ASP’s strange penchant for teeth made headlines, the Tamil Nadu IPS Officers Association issued a statement referring to the media coverage of Singh’s alleged custodial torture as a media trial. The controversy could have been avoided if the government had dealt with it sternly on day one without leaving room for blame.


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