765 past, CBI probe still awaited in alleged police custodial death

765 past, CBI probe still awaited in alleged police custodial death

A 30-year-old man's agitation demanding a CBI investigation in his younger brother's police custodial death in 2014, has entered its 765th day amid fresh support mobilised through social media.

Sreejith – a resident of Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram – has been on a sit-in protest, on a side-walk near the State Secretariat here, seeking justice for his brother Sreejeev who died after alleged torture by Parassala police. The CPM-led state government said the Centre had already turned down calls  for a CBI probe but is learnt to have reviving the request.

Sreejeev, arrested on May 19, 2014 in connection with a case of mobile phone theft, died two days later. The police claimed that he consumed poison he had attached to his underwear.

On Sunday, hundreds assembled near the Secretariat to show solidarity with Sreejith. Actor Tovino Thomas was among the supporters. On Saturday, actor Nivin Pauly had lauded Sreejith on his "one-man fight". A social media campaign titled #JusticeForSreejith has revived fresh calls for a CBI investigation even as the issue morphed into a political plank with leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala extending support to Sreejith. The alleged custodial torture happened when the previous Congress government was in power and Chennithala was Home Minister.  

The State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), after a probe, discounted the police version. In its May 2016 order, SPCA said the policemen, after torturing Sreejeev, forced him to consume poison. A circle inspector and an ASI are alleged to have tortured Sreejeev, with help from two civil police officers. A sub-inspector is alleged to have submitted a forged report to shield the officers. Sreejeev was allegedly framed in the interest of one of the officers related to a girl Sreejeev was in a relationship with.

In an order dated September 3, 2016 the Chief Secretary, acting on SPCA's findings, sanctioned the release of Rs 10 lakh as compensation to Sreejeev's family and a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident. The compensation was handed over but the probe was stayed by the High Court.

According to a June 9, 2017 communication from the state government to the Centre, the case was being investigated by a SIT under the ADGP (south zone). On December 12, 2017, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions turned down the request for a CBI probe saying that the case was not "of rare and exceptional nature". It said the CBI  was already "over-burdened" with cases referred from the state.

 

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