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Police excess: SHRC recommends ₹3 lakh solatium to driver’s kin

Commission condemns inaction on the part of JC-West, SP, Railways

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Thursday recommended that the Tamil Nadu government pay compensation of ₹3 lakh to the legal heirs of a cab driver, who killed himself after being harassed by police personnel in January 2019.

Besides recommending disciplinary action against sub-inspectors Ramuthai and S. Thangam and head constable S. Perumal in connection with the incident, SHRC member D. Jayachandran condemned the actions of the then Joint Commissioner of Police-West and Superintendent of Police, Railways, for their reported attempt to not bring out the truth in the incident.

The Commission also recommended the Tamil Nadu government give suitable instructions to the Director-General of Police to instruct police officials to conduct a proper inquiry on the complaints forwarded by it and to take suitable action against the erring officials.

The SHRC had, in 2019, taken suo-motu cognisance of a media report over the incident, including a video clipping of the driver in which he alleged harassment by the police. Eventually, a complaint by the deceased man’s brother, M. Ramkumar, was received.

According to the media report, cab driver Rajesh picked up a woman employee in Anna Nagar and was waiting for another employee when two policemen hit the rear of the car with a lathi and asked him to move the vehicle from that place.

When the driver moved to another place, the policemen returned and verbally abused him. Though the driver said there was a woman passenger inside the vehicle, they further abused him. Later, the driver took the extreme step in Taramani after being humiliated by the policemen. His statement about the harassment was recorded by him on his mobile phone, the report said.

During the hearing of the case, it came to light that the investigating officer in the case neither recovered the mobile phone of the deceased nor brought the recorded video to the notice of the authorities, though she was inquiring into the case.

She even went on to ask the deceased’s brother to delete the video from the mobile phone, even though it was aired on TV channels through the deceased’s friends.

After hearing both sides in the case, Mr. Jayachandran said: "The Joint Commissioner of Police, West Zone, Greater Chennai Police, Chennai and also the Superintendent of Police, Railways, Chennai, had not conducted the inquiry in accordance with law and they have never taken any steps to seize the video from the said mobile phone and sent the same for expert’s opinion in order to find out the truth. Therefore, the action of the said police officers is condemnable.."

(Those who require assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts may contact the State’s health helpline 104 or Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050).

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