Death of Ramu in Police Custody
(Report by the Fact
Finding Team of Odanadi in Collaboration with South India Cell For Human
Rights Education and Monitoring)
MEMBERS: Prof. Anuradha Polanky Ramamurthy, Mysore; 2. Nethra Raju, Journalist,
Mysore; 3. Stanly Parashu - Directors, Odanadi Seva Samsthe, Mysore; 4.
N. Shobha, Mysore.
A history of the victim - Ramu alias Papanna aged about 50 yrs. a native
of Kadathanallu, married to Rathnamma has two male issues, Kumara and
Swamy aged about 20 yrs. and 16 yrs. respectively. He worked as a coolie
at the time of his death. He had settled down in Sitapura, Pandavapura
Taluk, Mandya District, since it was his wife's native place. It is alleged
that he was caught red handed at Balamuri on 01/11/2001 night while breaking
into a shop and was handed over by the villagers on 02/11/2001 morning
to the K. R. Sagar police. On 07/11/2001 he was admitted to Srirangapattana
General Hospital and he died there of severe ulceritis. Suspecting foul
play by the police Ramu's wife Rathnamma and children staged dharna in
front of the police station at K.R.S. demanding immediate action against
police responsible for illegal detention and the subsequent death of Ramu.
Subsequent to this on 08/11/2001 at 8:30 PM one Mr. Ramakumar A Naik,
Additional police Inspector lodged a complaint against 9 policemen of
K. R. Sagar police station accused of offences under sec. 341 and 343
IPC - FIR No. 156/01 and the 9 policemen are kept under suspension.
However, on 10/11/2001 at 2:00. p. m. Rathnamma wife of deceased Ramu
lodged a complaint against the villagers at K R Sagar Police station stating
that Mallegowda, a policeman informed her that on 08/11/2001 at 5:00 a.m.
her husband was beaten up by sticks and stones by the people of Balamuri
while committing theft and though he was treated by policemen at Srirangapattana
hospital, he had succumbed to death. She also stated that her husband
suffered from stomach pain off and on and had been taking treatment. She
also admits to the fact that her husband had committed theft earlier hence
he was attending courts. An FIR was lodged- No. 158.
- Balamuri - the
members first visited the spot at Balamuri where the theft took place
and spoke to the owners of the shop one Mr. Balaramu. According to him
Ramu was caught on 01/11/2001 night and handed over to K. R. Sagar police
on 08/11/2001 morning. A few other witnesses were reluctant to speak
about the incident. He pointed out the spot where Ramu had broken the
wall and got into the shop. It is alleged that he stole biscuits, cigarettes
and some music systems.
- K. R. Sagar Police
Station - Met Mr. Kodanda Ramu, Circle Inspector - appointed after the
suspension of the earlier policemen. He refused to give any documents
relating to Ramu's detention stating that they were in the custody of
C.O.D. who has taken up the case. After we contacted the ASP and made
a request to him, he gave instructions to hand over the FIR'S. The staff
also refused to part with any information on grounds that they were
newly appointed and were ignorant of facts leading to Ramu's death.
- Home of Ramu -
Sitapura - visited on 14/11/2001, met Rathnamma the wife and the sons
who were reluctant to talk about the incident. After a lot of coaxing
they said that they had left the matter to be solved by the Panchayat
of the village. They kept on insisting that they did not know anything
about the cause of the death. It so happened that his first wife and
daughter were also present in the village on that day. They complained
that they were not informed about Ramu's death and had doubts about
the facts leading to his death. When Rathnamma was questioned if she
had lodged a complaint at first she denied the fact, however when she
was shown and read out the complaint she agreed that it was written
by the elders of the village and that she was unaware of its contents
but she had affixed her thumb impression. One of the elder's of the
village disclosed that a sum of Rs.5, 000 (Rs. Five thousand) was given
to the victim's family by a prominent politician of the village and
the family is also promised with a further payment of Rs. 2 lakhs from
the government. All offers of help of justice and monetary compensation,
which goes along with that, by the team was refused by Rathnamma saying
that she had left the matter in the hands of the elders of the village.
It was also disclosed by the family that the deceased Ramu was burnt
contrary to the usual custom of burial in the village. The eldest son
said there were lesions on the dead body, but later on he went back
on his statement.
General Government Hospital - On an application for the documents of
admission, prescription, case sheet and postmortem report, it was point
blankly refused by the concerned doctor. One Dr. Ghouse, who attended
on the deceased Ramu, whom the team happened to meet informed that Ramu
was admitted by a policeman in plain clothes who disappeared after admission.
He also alleged that Ramu was treated for severe ulceritis but he succumbed
within an hour. In fact he wanted to send the patient to KR Hospital,
Mysore for better treatment. He also admits that there was no one with
the patient at the time of death to claim the body. Hence he informed
the police to take the body. Dr. Munisiddiah, senior specialist - General
Surgery who conducted the postmortem gave an endorsement that the postmortem
report is submitted to the Additional District Magistrate, Mandya, thus
to obtain the same from him or he would hand over if permission was
obtained from him.
After obtaining the
facts from the various sources, the committee is of the opinion that a
clear picture does not emerge regarding the death of Ramu.
The most crucial lapse on the part of K. R. Sagar police is that Ramu
was taken to custody without any complaint by the villagers who handed
him over for the alleged theft he had committed. Hence there is no FIR
and custody of Ramu is not shown on record. Secondly, it is strange that
he was detained for 6 days at K. R. Sagar police station and then he was
transferred to Srirangapattana police station (this has been admitted
in FIR) without assigning any reason and no documents to show the transfer.
It is very suspicious that the wife Rathnamma, who first protested on
08/11/2001 against the police about her husband's death, suddenly changed
her allegation and lodged a complaint in the K. R. Sagar police station
against the villagers holding them responsible for her husband's death.
In the complaint she alleges that her husband suffered stomach pain off
and on. She also admitted that the complaint was written at the behest
of one Mallegowda, a policeman. This version of hers adds weight to the
facts narrated by Dr. Ghouse, that the deceased Ramu suffered severe ulceritis,
which caused his death. It gives a clear image of the police involvement
in concocting the story of the stomach ache supported by the wife.
Thus there seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress the real facts
of the custody death by the police. Eye witnesses at the hospital at Srirangapattana
stated that Ramu was brought in a dead condition to the hospital and not
for treatment as alleged by the doctor.
Most of the people whom the team met believed that the certain prominent
politicians played a vital role in assisting the police to hush up the
facts regarding the death of Ramu in custody.
That the postmortem report was refused by the doctor concerned and also
the fact that the body was cremated leads to strong suspicion regarding
the unnatural death of Ramu.