A 30-year-old man died in police custody in Tamil Nadu’s Chennai on Sunday, The Indian Express reported. This is the second such incident reported in the state capital in two months.

Five police officers, including an inspector, sub-inspector and head constables of the Kodungaiyur Police Station, have been suspended.

The Kodungaiyur Police in north Chennai picked up S Rajasekar, a resident of Tiruvallur district, to question him about a theft he allegedly committed on Saturday, reported The New Indian Express.

Rajasekar had 27 criminal cases registered against him, Chennai Additional Commissioner TS Anbu said at a press conference on Sunday, reported The Indian Express.

“During the course of inquiry, he had health complications,” Anbu said. “He was taken to a nearby hospital on Sunday. The doctors declared that he was fine and he was taken back to the station. Later he was vomiting and had other discomfort and was taken to the hospital again in the evening.”

Rajasekar was referred to the Government Stanley Hospital, but he died on the way, Anbu said.

“We have registered a case under Section 176-1A [death in custody] of the Criminal Procedure Code, and the judicial magistrate is going to conduct an inquiry into this incident,” he added. “Based on his report, further action would be initiated.”

The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Crime Investigation Department. Rajasekar’s body was sent for postmortem examination.

In another case of custodial death in Chennai, three policemen were booked by the Crime Branch in April.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Edappadi Palaniswami expressed shock over Rajasekar’s death on Sunday.

“While these incidents have proved that lock-up deaths cannot be prevented or controlled by the police, I urge the High Court judge to take legal action against the lock-up deaths in the current government’s rule,” he wrote on Twitter.

The police, however, denied that there was an increase in custodial deaths, The Indian Express reported.

“We cannot say it has been happening continuously,” Anbu said. “Can we stop the investigation then? Cases are getting registered and it is the duty of police officers to investigate the incident.”

He said that the police department should not be defamed over “a few incidents like this”.

Custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu

On April 18, Vignesh, and his friend Suresh were held in Chennai’s Kellys area 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.

The postmortem report showed that Vignesh had 13 injuries, and it confirmed that he received the wounds prior to his death.

On January 11, a man identified as Prabhakaran was sent to judicial custody in Salem district. The next day, the 45-year-old was taken to a hospital after he complained that he was unwell. He died there in the night.

The police suspended two sub-inspectors and one head constable attached to the Senthamangalam police station.

In June last year, a 47-year-old man died after he was beaten up by the police in Salem. Special Sub-Inspector Periyasami was arrested in connection with the death.

In June 2020, a father and his son had died in police custody in the Thoothukudi district. In its chargesheet, the Central Bureau of Investigation had said that the two were tortured by the police for more than seven hours.