PUCL Bulletin, March 2002

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Srirangapattana 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.

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