They tortured Udayakumar to force a confession out of him, beating him mercilessly with cane sticks on his legs and later rolling down a heavy iron pipe down his thighs. The post-mortem revealed that he received more than 40 injuries on his thighs and lower abdomen.
Thiruvananthapuram: In 2005, A 26-year-old Udayakumar was tortured by police officers in Kerala for a crime he did not commit. He was beaten in custody with a heavy iron log rolled over his thighs and his feet thrashed with sticks. He died the next day. The case had become popular by the name ‘urutti kola,’ (rolling death) in the state.
In a first, A special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram awarded the death penalty to K Jithakumar and SV Sreekumar, two civil police officers of the Kerala Police, for the custodial torture and eventual death of Udayakumar. A fine of Rs. 2 lakh each has also been imposed on the two.
“The CBI Special Judge Nazar handed down the capital punishment to the accused. The judge said he found no mitigating circumstances to reduce the quantum of punishment. “Law enforcers are protectors of life and property and not death dealers. The accused had killed an innocent person in their custody,” he said. Justice Nazar ruled the crime fell in the rarest of the rare category that deserved death. Their illegal actions had severely eroded public trust in the law enforcement and caused social harm,” reported The Hindu.
“The court also awarded three years’ imprisonment to three others accused — retired superintendent of police TK Haridas, and deputy superintendents of police Ajith Kumar and EK Sabu — for trying to cover up the crime and destroying evidence. All three were granted bail by the court. On Tuesday, the five were found guilty by the court,” reported The Hindustan Times. They had also falsified police station records.
“The victim’s 67-year-old single-mother, Prabhavathi Amma, was in court, clad in white, to hear the verdict. The accused officers wept as they listened to the order,” reported The Hindu.
His mother has fought relentlessly for 13 years and was broke down in tears after the verdict. “I lived all these years to hear this verdict. I am satisfied now. No mother should undergo my plight. Hope this will act as a strong deterrent against police brutality,” she told the press.
“Parvathy Amma thanked the media for the outpouring of social support their coverage of the case had triggered. She said no other mother should suffer her fate. “They killed my son during an Onam 13 years ago. Now they will spend their Onam in prison. No court will pardon them. They killed an innocent man. God has heard a mother’s prayer”, she said.
“The case has come as a legal victory for the CBI. It had bolstered its case against the local police by flipping seven suspect officers, who were present at the station on the day of the crime, in favour of the prosecution. It also relied heavily on sworn statements of crime scene experts and forensic doctors,” The Hindu reported.
“Udayakumar, 27, and his friend Suresh were picked up by officers of the Fort Police station in Thiruvananthapuram on September 27, 2005, from the Sreekandeshwaram Park in the city on charges of theft. Cash amounting to Rs. 4500, found in the possession of Udayakumar, was seen as grounds for the duo to be taken into custody. Two constables then tortured Udayakumar to force a confession out of him, beating him mercilessly with cane sticks on his legs and later rolling down a heavy iron pipe down his thighs. This act of third-degree torture by the Kerala Police later came to be known as ‘urutti kola’ (rolling murder) in the local media,” reported The Indian Express. His friend Suresh was a history-sheeter who had a record of petty thefts.
“The post-mortem revealed that he received more than 40 injuries on his thighs and lower abdomen. The trial hit several snags in its course as several key witnesses turned hostile. The CBI took over the investigation in 2008 after the mother moved the high court with a plea to hand over the case to the central agency, alleging that the state police were dragging their feet in the probe,” HT reported.
“The case touched a raw nerve among people because of Parvathy Amma’s protracted and determined legal battle to bring to justice the killers of her only son. It had also prompted a public discussion on police brutality and led to widespread condemnation of third-degree methods,” The Hindu reported.