Two weeks after a man died in police custody in Chennai, unverified close circuit television footage showed two personnel chasing and then beating up the man, NDTV reported on Tuesday.
The footage emerged amid allegations by the man’s family that he died due to police torture.
The man, Vignesh, and his friend Suresh were held in Chennai’s Kellys area on April 18 for allegedly possessing drugs. The police claimed that the next morning, Vignesh started vomiting and had a seizure after having breakfast. He was taken to a hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead on arrival, they said.
However, footage that emerged on social media on Monday showed a man, purportedly Vignesh, being chased by two police personnel. The police personnel can be seen catching hold of him and then beating him up. The footage was from April 19.
Henri Tiphange, the head of human rights organisation People’s Watch, said that there were at least 15 other cameras in the area. But the police ensured that none of the other cameras worked, he alleged, according to NDTV. He alleged that Vignesh was tortured for three hours starting from 11 pm on April 18.
“Why is the magistrate quiet?” he asked. “Judicial magistrate’s role is sacred in cases of suspicious deaths.”
The organisation has taken up Vignesh’s case and has supported the family’s allegations of torture.
However, a member of the investigation team told NDTV that the man tried to attack the police by throwing a knife. “A frame-by-frame analysis of Vignesh’s body movement in the footage would indicate, the man using his hand to throw the knife without turning back and that’s when he lost balance and fell,” the unidentified official said.
On April 20, Vignesh’s brother Vinod said that he had seen his body and alleged that there were injuries on his face and arms due to custodial torture, according to The News Minute. The family had also claimed that they were not allowed to see his body after the autopsy.
On April 30, he claimed that the Chennai Police had offered him Rs 1 lakh to remain silent about the matter.
The police’s claims
The police had alleged that they found 50 grams of cannabis, liquor bottles and knife from Vignesh and Suresh during a routine checkup. They alleged that the two men were drunk and tried to attack police officials when questioned.
They were then taken to the Secretariat Colony Police Station and a case was registered against them, the police said.
After Vignesh’s death, a case of a suspicious death was registered in the matter and a police sub-inspector, a constable and a home guard were suspended. The case has been transferred to the crime branch of Tamil Nadu Crime Investigation Department.