KOCHI: Since the custodial death of P Rajan in 1976, a lot of people in Kerala have undergone police brutality and excesses. Though many governments have come one after the other in the past 43 years, nothing has stopped the police from resorting to the same-old third-degree methods.
Former state police chief Jacob Punnoose says that custodial deaths recur as police personnel are not exposing their colleagues who resort to third-degree methods on people in custody. “This is the biggest mistake committed by the police. They don’t expose colleagues who are corrupt and brutal. They remain mute spectators to the illegal activities and when things go out of control, they also find themselves embroiled in the wrongdoings of a few,” he says.
Punnoose says even after all these years, no periodic psychological assessment is done or counselling for policemen is given. “Policemen resort to brutality citing it as an excuse to extract details from the accused to prove the crime. This is absolutely a false claim. During my service in the department, I did an analysis of the custodial deaths and found that not in a single case, torture was necessary for investigation. It’s the inflated ego of a few policemen that results in the torture of the accused,” Punnoose says, and adds that in the
Raj Kumar custodial death case too, the crime was known, the witnesses were known and no situation warranted the police to resort to brutality on the accused. “A mobile phone analysis and cross-examination of a few persons would have been enough for the police to extract details of the crimes from the accused,” he says.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera had told ‘Express’ that right from the training period, police personnel are briefed not to violate rules and engage in physical assault on those in custody. “We have brought in drastic changes in the syllabus for police training. Despite all awareness programmes, a few continue with their own style of functioning, bringing shame to the entire department,” he said.