The Kerala government on Wednesday rejected the Opposition’s demand for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged custodial death of a 26-year-old man in Kochi, PTI reported. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there was no laxity in the investigation and that it was on the “right track”, after the Congress-led United Democratic Front presented the matter as a submission in the Assembly.
After Vijayan’s response, Opposition parties walked out of the Assembly.
“Special Investigation Team has been investigating all the cases relating to Varappuzha custodial death,” Vijayan told the Assembly, Mathrubhumi reported. “[The] Police have arrested all the accused involved in the case as per the probe report of SIT. The probe into the case is satisfactory. So there is no need of a CBI inquiry.”
The chief minister said the government was not interfering in the inquiry. The assertion came after the Opposition accused the government of trying to undermine the investigation to protect former Ernakulam Superintendent of Police (Rural) AV George who is facing allegations of lapses. Eleven police personnel, including George, were suspended after the incident, said Vijayan.
On Monday, the Kerala High Court granted conditional bail to three Rural Task Force officials for their alleged role in the custodial death. 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.
Sreejith, from Varappuzha in Ernakulam district, died on April 9, three days after he was taken 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. The family of SR Sreejith has alleged lapses in the police investigation into his death. They had even moved the Kerala High Court, asking for the CBI to take over the investigation.