A man from the Scheduled Caste Kuravar community was hospitalised in Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu on Thursday after he was allegedly tortured in police custody, The News Minute reported. Sakthivel, one of the five persons arrested earlier this week by Kallakurichi Police on charges of robbery, had complained of chest pain. He was in custody since Tuesday.

An unidentified police officer told The Hindu that the five men were involved in 13 cases of allegedly breaking into houses. The officer said that fingerprints of three of the five arrested men matched with the samples they had collected from the crime scenes.

The officer claimed that the men had confessed to the crime and the allegedly stolen jewellery had been recovered from them.

However, Palaniyammal, secretary of the Kuravar Association, on Thursday alleged that Sakthivel had been tortured in police custody.

“The police tied him up, hung him upside down and beat him,” she said. “They tied him up and hung him by his thumbs. His thumbs would have taken the weight of his whole body.”

Palaniyammal said she would visit the hospital where Sakthivel was being treated as she feared that police would tamper with medical reports, The News Minute reported.

Two other arrested people Dharamaraj and Prakash were also tortured by the police in custody, alleged Selavam, who along with another arrested man had been released.

“Just hearing them scream in pain shook me,” he said. “I went numb listening to it. They made the two of them stand on chairs set in between pillars. Then they tied their thumbs to the pillars and removed the chairs, so they were left hanging by their thumbs.”

Prakash’s wife, Bhuvaneshwari has filed a petition with the district administration alleging illegal detention of her husband by the police, according to The Hindu. She claimed that her husband two relatives, Dharamraj and Selavam, were forcibly taken into custody by the police on Sunday.

“When I went to the police station, they were not in the precincts of the station and they were detained illegally,” she alleged.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding report by Tamil Nadu-based non-government organisation Witness for Justice said that Dharamraj and Prakash had been framed in 13 different cases, The Hindu reported.

K Jeyasudha, executive director of Witness for Justice, claimed that various forms of torture were used in criminal investigation by the police, especially against the people from the Kuravar community.

“The government should also ensure that cases were not filed against the tribes based on mere suspicion,” she said.