The Kerala High Court on Monday granted conditional bail to three Rural Task Force officials for their alleged role in the custodial death of Sreejith. The task force was set up as an “anti-goonda” squad by the Ernakulam Rural Police. It comprises of Armed Reserve Camp personnel, and is currently inactive.
A magistrate court and district sessions court had earlier dismissed the bail pleas of Santhosh Kumar, Sumesh and Jithin Raj.
Sreejith, from Varappuzha in Ernakulam district, died on April 9, three days after he was taken away from his home by three men in plain clothes, apparently for attacking the house of a man called Vasudevan. On April 8, he was admitted to a private hospital after he complained of a stomach ache and said he had difficulty urinating. The doctors found his small intestine was damaged and did an emergency surgery.
On April 12, the State Human Rights Commission confirmed that Sreejith had been tortured in custody. Activists said he was the fifth man to die in police custody since the Left Democratic Front government, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), came to power in May 2016.
Kerala Chief Minister P Vijayan rejected the State Human Rights Commission’s demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry while citing that the demand appeared to be part of a political stand. The commission’s chairperson, P Mohana Das was appointed by the previous Congress-led alliance government.
A Special Investigation Team is currently looking into the case.