Yet another custodial torture, this time in Kerala

The Kerala government has decided to transfer the case of a 28-year-old housemaid, who has been beaten up by police, to be probed by the crime branch which will take it up Monday. The housemaid was arrested on suspicion that she has stolen jewels from a home where she works.

IANS| Updated: Sep 29, 2014, 09:33 AM IST

Kochi: The Kerala government has decided to transfer the case of a 28-year-old housemaid, who has been beaten up by police, to be probed by the crime branch which will take it up Monday. The housemaid was arrested on suspicion that she has stolen jewels from a home where she works.

The incident happened in Cheranalloor village. The villagers came together to protest against the incident and helped the housemaid, who they feel is wrongly implicated in the theft case.

People have also called for a shutdown in the village and expressed their sympathy for Leeba Suresh, the housemaid who is now bedridden in a Kochi hospital following alleged torture in police custody. Suresh has denied doing any such theft.

She had a child and was employed as a housemaid at a doctor's home near Kochi. Her husband works as a casual labourer. On August 23, she was arrested by police for interrogation over suspicion that she has stolen jewels.

The next day around 10 p.m., she was produced before a magistrate who sent her to judicial custody. She was beaten up by police in the custody and was later admitted to a government hospital.

The entire village has been extending full support to Suresh. The authorities suspended a sub-inspector and two women constables after the public outcry.

An action council comprising representatives from all political parties have been demanding that the rest of the guilty police officials be punished for the brutality.

Four police officials (three women and one man) were suspended Saturday, E Jolly, Suresh's neighbour and Cheranalloor village council member, told IANS.

"I know this woman since she was a child and she can never do such a thing. She was subjected to third degree measures including rubbing chillies on her face and beaten up by police," he said.

"She (Suresh) is admitted to a hospital. She has suffered an injury on her back. We will now take legal action because a local jeweller has approached the Kerala High Court asking for police protection because they (police) wanted him to give a statement saying Suresh approached him to sell the jewels which she has stolen," said Jolly.

Retired judge of Supreme Court and former chairman of State Police Reforms Committee, KT. Thomas said there is no pardon for police officials involved in such acts.

"The only time they (police) can do such things is when they feel there is a direct threat to their life. The third degree measures cannot be used at all," said Thomas.

Leader of Opposition VS Achuthanandan, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, retired justice VR Krishna Iyer and other leaders have visited Suresh to give her support.

Police Complaint Authority chairman Justice KT Narayana Kurup has also taken up the issue and has visited the lady. He has recorded her statement.