KALLAKURICHI: Five men belonging to the Kuravar tribe in Chinasalem were picked up by police in plain clothes on Sunday night and on Tuesday from different localities and subjected to custodial torture, claimed one of the tribals. Three of them were produced in court on Wednesday night.
In claims that remind one of the movie ‘Jai Bhim’, three Kuravar men K Selvam (48), P Dharmaraj (35) from Gongarapayalam and P Prakash (25) from Thillai Nagar, were allegedly “forcibly taken from their homes on Sunday midnight by Kallakurichi crime branch police.”
“We were not informed about any arrest and were also unaware of their whereabouts. So, we went searching for them at police stations in Varanjaram, Chinasalem and Kallakurichi, which are within the limit of our houses,” said S Kamalayee (40), wife of Selvam. Subsequently, two other men K Paramasivam (44) and P Sakthivel (28) were arrested on Tuesday, relatives claim.
Unable to find them as well, relatives filed a complaint with the District Judicial Magistrate R Arun Pandian on Tuesday evening, and sources said that the Magistrate himself searched for the men in the three police stations, but couldn’t trace them.
Meanwhile, Selvam and Paramasivam were sent to their homes on Tuesday midnight. Villupuram SP Dr N Shreenatha, who is in-charge of Kallakurichi, told TNIE that fingerprints of three of the tribals matched with prints taken from the scene of a theft, and so they would be remanded while the other two (Selvam and Paramasivam) were found to have no involvement in the crime.
‘Suspended from the thumb’
TNIE met Selvam and Paramasivam at Gongarapalayam village, where they reside. “Police asked me to turn facing the wall and all I could hear was the men screaming out of pain in the background. Dharmaraj, when I saw, was hung up by just his thumbs. He was brutally beaten. Police asked to us to identify at least one pawn shop so they can claim that we stole jewellery at the house. We were all beaten till we accepted the crime but my brother and I were let go because we were sick,” Selvam said.
Rajendran, district secretary of the Theendamai Olippu Munnani in Kallakurichi told TNIE, “Even if the men had committed the alleged crime, who gives the right to police to forcefully take them into custody and hold them in secret for more than 48 hours? While our CM has announced special schemes for the welfare of tribals, these systemic crimes against them should also end.”
Prakash and Dharmaraj were produced at the Judicial Magistrate Court Number 1 in Kallakurichi on Wednesday evening. The two were booked for three different cases of theft, including one from 2020. They were remanded and sent to the Kallakurichi sub-jail. Dharmaraj told the JM that police tortured them, said official sources. Sakthivel was brought before the judicial custody at 8 pm on Wednesday and remanded. When contacted by TNIE, a senior police officer denied the allegations of the tribals and said none were subjected to torture by the police.