A day after Swathi murder accused P. Ramkumar allegedly killed himself inside the high security Puzhal prison in Chennai, the Madras High Court has ruled out a CBI probe in this case as sought by his family and opposition parties in Tamil Nadu. It has also directed the postmortem to be conducted by a team of four doctors- Dr Balasubramanium of Stanley hospital in Chennai, Dr Manikandan, Dr Sellakumar and Dr Vinod of Royapettah government hospital in Chennai. A probe team headed by Magistrate Thamilselvi visited the spot in Puzhal prison where Ramkumar allegedly committed suicide by biting a live wire at the kitchen inside the prison.
The State Human Rights Commission, taking suo motu cognizance of the suicide, has directed the police officials involved in the case to submit their report on Ramkumar’s death within two weeks.
While the legal actions and enquiries after the suicide are taking its own course, the suspicions about Ramkumar’s death, as whether if it was a suicide or a planned murder, still remain.
Apparently, Ramkumar, who was arrested on July 1 from his village Senkottai near Tirunelveli, would automatically be entitled for bail if the charge sheet is not filed before October 1. So the suspicion of foul play gains momentum, said a senior lawyer in Madras High Court. Ramkumar’s family, while raising suspicions about his death, said, “We don’t believe in the suicide theory.” According to his father Paramasivam, it was a carefully planned murder.
“If he wanted to commit suicide why did he do it now? He would have done it on the very first day itself,” he said.
Alleging that his safety was at peril from day one, Paramasivam maintained that his son was actually framed and now murdered in this case. In fact, his lawyer Ramraj’s phone call to the prison authorities a few minutes after the news of his suicide broke does nothing to allay the confusion and growing suspicions over the entire incident.
In an audio recording of the telephonic conversation released by Ramraj, between himself and an official at the Puzhal prison, the former asks if the news about Ramkumar’s suicide is true. “He had stomach disorder and is being taken to Royapettah hospital for a check up. There is nothing else. I have informed his mother,” the prison official on the other side of the phone says. According to the accident register at the Royapettah hospital, Ramkumar suffered injuries in his neck and chest.
According to the report submitted by the police on Monday, he bit a live wire in the kitchen and died by electrocution.
Apparently, Ramkumar’s lawyer was about to move the court for his bail plea on Monday, as the chargesheet was yet to be filed 81 days after the arrest. In fact Puzhal being a high security prison, doubts as to how a detainee could get access to a live wire remains an unanswered question.
Meanwhile, environmental activist Piyush Manush’s Facebook post commenting on Ramkumar's death has added fuel to the growing suspicions. “Ramkumar, accused of killing Swathi in broad daylight in Chennai, is dead while under judicial custody at Puzhal prison. Believe me.. it is just not possible to have access to a live wire with the wiring system being near perfect in all jails (in terms of wiring within walls or reach or the fuse detection systems). Inside cells there is no way one could touch a wire. If outside near to the dispensary as claimed in this case... there is no possibility of having the time and being alone to engage in the task and that for a prisoner like Ramkumar. It just does not work this way at all.”
Manush was reportedly thrashed inside the Salem jail, a month ago for his social activities taking on the ruling class. “Prisons have become torture chambers for the TN police with jail personnel acting at the behest of vested interests. I had a narrow escape from the Salem central prison and justice seems so elusive. This case will die a slow death after a while and the murder mystery of Swathi and now Ramkumar will be buried forever,” he further noted in his Facebook post.
In fact, there was no clarity in the investigation into the brutal murder of 24-year old Swathi, the Chennai-based techie who was murdered on a railway platform in Chennai. The Chennai city police released a CCTV footage and the image of the accused only after two days. Ramkumar was picked up from his village on July 1, saying it was a one-sided love affair which led to the murder. But on August 17, Ramkumar filed a petition in the Madras High court saying he did not kill Swathi. His parents sought a CBI probe in this case which was rejected by the court on September 2.
Now with the death of Ramkumar, the investigation in the Swathi murder case has hit a road block. Though the police claim that they have enough evidence to prove that Ramkumar was the killer, the case has now turned the other way.