Custodial death rocks Kerala after 53-year-old man slapped & dragged to Tripunithura station dies

Eyewitnesses said Manoharan, who ran a small spare parts shop, was dragged to the police station though he did not drive his motorbike under the influence of alcohol, and nor was he overspeeding.

Published: 26th March 2023 05:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2023 07:13 PM   |  A+A-

FILE: In this March 2018 image, UDF leaders with Sneha, wife of Mukundan who died following high handedness of police officers involved in the Sreejith custodial death case. (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: An alleged custodial murder rocked the state on Sunday after a father of two school-going children died at the Tripunithura Hill Palace police station on Saturday night after being hit with a helmet by a policeman during a road inspection.

Manoharan (53), a native of Irupanam and the sole breadwinner of his family, was declared dead at the Ernakulam Medical Trust, within one hour of being dragged to the police station.

Eyewitnesses said Manoharan, who ran a small spare parts shop, was dragged to the police station though he did not drive his motorbike under the influence of alcohol, and nor was he overspeeding.

Following the uproar, Sub-Inspector Jimmy Jose, who slapped Manoharan in the face during the inspection, was suspended from service.

"Manoharan could not immediately stop his motorcycle when police waved him down. After stopping his two-wheeler a few meters ahead of the parked police vehicle, he drove back to the police vehicle. When he reached there, a police officer asked why he did not stop the bike. As Manoharan was removing his helmet, a police officer slapped his face," said Rema Devi, a neighbour who witnessed the police's high-handedness in front of her house. The police were camping at the narrow lane leading to Karshaka colony, a housing colony where daily wagers like Manoharan lived.

Rama said Manoharan told the policemen that he could not stop the motorcycle immediately due to his fear. "Using a device (alcometer), police took his breath test and found that he was not involved in drunken driving. Manoharan was seen shivering after being slapped by the police officer. They later asked him to get into their vehicle in which a few others who were caught drunk driving were also seated. Later, they took them to the police station," she said.

Girija Sasikumar, another neighbour, said a policeman hit Manoharan with the helmet.

As per the FIR of the case, he collapsed at around 9.30 pm at the Hill Palace police station. After he collapsed at the police station, he was first taken to the nearby Tripunithura Taluk Hospital and from there to the Ernakulam Medical Trust, where he was declared dead at 10 pm.

The inquest procedures were carried out by RDO at Medical Trust Hospital. By afternoon, the body was shifted to  Kalamassery Medical College for postmortem.

Kochi City Police Commissioner K Sethu Raman admitted that it was an inappropriate action on the part of a police official. "There is no permission granted to anyone for slapping a civilian. Manoharan was not found involved in drunken driving. The investigation into the incident is tasked to the DySP of the City Crime Branch," he said, adding that the postmortem report will reveal the actual reason behind the death. "From the preliminary assessment cardiac arrest is suspected. We have information that he was taking medicine for high blood pressure," Sethu Raman told TNIE.

Meanwhile, custodial death has triggered a major political issue. Anoop Jacob, local MLA, said that police check on narrow roads are against the circular issued by Kerala Police Chief. "I receive frequent complaints regarding atrocities by police officials and the Station House Officer of Hill Palace Police Station. It was a narrow road and who gave police permission to conduct checking there? Who gave police permission to slap a person?" Anoop asked. Manoharan was not involved in drunken driving. He was not a history-sheeter. There is no case registered against him at any police stations, said the MLA. "This is a clear case of police atrocity. I am frequently receiving complaints from people in my constituency against police officials of Hill Palace Police Station who engaged in brutal torture methods," he said.

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan and his party workers visited Manoharan's house. "When the police atrocities are rising, the Chief Minister is sitting on the home minister's portfolio shamelessly," said Satheesan.

Congress and BJP also conducted protest marches to the police station. More police were deployed in front of the Hill Palace Police Station to prevent any violence as part of the protest marches. 

India Matters


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