THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the CBI special court awarded death sentence to two police officers in the Udayakumar custodial death case, his mother Prabhavathi Amma couldn’t hide her happiness. The 67-year-old was elated that her legal battle spanning more than 13 years has finally borne fruit.
From a hapless woman who limited herself mostly to household chores and never bothered about ‘big’ things happening in the world, Prabhavathi has changed a lot. Her only prayer throughout the trial was to keep her alive to see justice being done to her only child whose life was smothered by a group of police officers in lock-up.
As she spoke about the verdict, there was a twinkle in her eye as well as tears. She was happy and then, there was a sense of loss that has been lingering on her mind for years. Udayakumar would have been 40 now, if he had been alive. “I gave him (Udaya) what I could,” she said.
It was the desire to see her son’s killers in the dock that emboldened her to set out on the long and arduous journey. Prabhavathi said the journey to this point was not that easy. “People tried to harm me many times. But I survived to see this occasion,” she said.
She recalled that during the trial period, K V Soman, the third accused who died during the trial, used to lurk around her house. “It was as if he wanted to tell me something. But I was not interested and he was not bold enough to approach me. I don’t know what he had in mind,” she said.
Now that justice has been served, Prabhavathi said she does not want to talk to her son’s killers. “Sreekumar used to look at me during the court proceedings, but when I looked at him, his look wavered,” she said. “I don’t want to talk to them. What is there left for me to talk?”
All these years, Prabhavathi has struggled to get a good night’s sleep as thoughts of her son haunted her. “When it got unbearable, I took sleeping pills but stopped taking them as the doctors advised me not to do so,” she said.
She is unsure whether she will ever get to sleep in peace. “But I can try at least,” she said as she walked away.
After Udayakumar, focus now shifts to Sreejiv’s custodial death
Kochi: In the wake of the Udayakumar custodial death case coming to its logical conclusion with the conviction of the police personnel involved in the crime, the focus will now shift to the sensational custodial death case of Puthenveettil Sreejiv, which is being probed by the CBI. The CBI has already launched a probe into the death of Sreejiv, who allegedly died while in police custody in 2014. The case hit the headlines when Sreejiv’s brother Sreejith protested for nearly 800 days outside the Secretariat demanding a CBI probe into the custodial death case.
It was the huge public support garnered by Sreejith that forced the state government to agree to a CBI probe. The Udayakumar and Sreejiv cases have striking similarities as both the victims were taken into custody for suspected theft. Sreejiv died at a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on May 21, 2014, two days after he was taken into custody. Though cops maintained Sreejiv had died in hospital after consuming poison, his family blamed custodial torture. Even the Police Complaints Authority found the death was due to custodial torture.
Victims’ families trust only the CBI
Kochi: The CBI probe in the custodial death of Udayakumar has led to the conviction of police officers, with two of them being awarded capital punishment. Of late, Kerala has been witnessing a rise in petitions being filed in the High Court seeking CBI probes. A look at a few such cases...
Latvian woman murder case: In June, the partner of a Latvian woman who was murdered in Thiruvananthapuram moved the High Court seeking a CBI probe, submitting that the state police had failed to make more arrests. The petition was submitted nearly two months after two men were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting and murdering the tourist.
Actor assault case: In June, actor Dileep approached the High Court seeking a CBI probe in the high-profile actor assault case. Dileep is an accused in the case of abduction and sexual assault of the actor in February 2017.
Jesna missing case: In June, Jesna Maria James’ brother moved the High Court seeking a CBI inquiry into the disappearance of his sister. He contended that the police had made no progress in the inquiry and the probe was not satisfactory.
Sreejith custodial death case: In June, Sreejith’s wife Akhila approached the High Court seeking a CBI probe into the Varapuzha custodial death case.
Shuhaib murder case: In March, the parents of slain Youth Congress worker S P Shuhaib filed
a petition in the High Court seeking a CBI probe. A single-judge bench had ordered a CBI probe. However, a division bench stayed the order after the state government challenged the same.