Six Tamil Nadu police personnel were arrested on Saturday for murder in connection with the custodial death of a 25-year-old man in Chennai. The policemen have also been charged under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The case, earlier registered under sections of suspicious death, was modified to a murder case after the post-mortem examination found 13 injuries on the body of Vignesh.
The 25-year-old died a day after he was arrested last month for allegedly carrying cannabis and trying to attack a policeman.
A sub-inspector, a constable and a Home Guard have been suspended in connection with the case. Several policemen were summoned for questioning yesterday.
On Friday, responding to a calling attention motion by Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswamy on the state's law and order situation, Chief Minister M K Stalin told the Assembly, "As the Leader of Opposition said, the post-mortem indicates thirteen injuries. On the basis of this, I would like to inform this House that the case has been changed into a murder case. A murder case has been filed against the police. The CB-CID has been instructed to continue its investigation."
The Opposition, however, staged a walkout, insisting on a CBI investigation. "How can our police investigate themselves when the Chief Minister himself has said it's a case of murder? Only a CBI probe can bring out the truth. The Chief Minister has made contradictory statements," Mr Palaniswamy said.
According to the post-mortem report, Vignesh suffered injuries on his head, above the eye and cheek, among others. The cause of death, however, is yet to be confirmed as reports of some other tests have not come in yet.
According to police, Vignesh had seizures in custody and was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.
An unverified video that emerged a few days ago shows the 25-year-old stumbling and falling face down as police chase him. A policeman is seen beating him once with what appears to be a baton. Police claim the man threw a knife at them while trying to flee.
Rights activists and an eyewitness have alleged that Vignesh was tortured. "He was beaten up from 11 pm to around 3 30 am," alleged Henri Tiphagne, executive directpr of People's Watch, a human rights organization that has taken up this matter.