//Congress to raise Kerala custodial deaths issue

Congress to raise Kerala custodial deaths issue

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Thiruvananthapuram – The opposition Congress in Kerala Monday decided to approach the National Human Rights Commission over the reported increase in the number of custodial deaths in the state.

‘In the latest incidents, two deaths were reported – in Tirur in Malappuram district on Aug 12 and another one here on Sunday. There have been 14 custodial deaths since the V.S. Achuthanandan government assumed power in May this year,’ Ramesh Chennithala, state Congress president, told reporters here.

In June one custodial death was reported. In July, six deaths were reported and this month so far seven had died in police custody.

This is the first time that both Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and Chennithala addressed a combined press conference on the issue.

‘We have written to Achuthanandan that we would like to meet him on Aug 16 to discuss the issue. We will wait till that day to launch our future course of action. Achuthanandan says what is happening is shameful but the home minister is silent,’ said Chandy.

‘The very same police officials are there now who were at the helm of affairs when Chandy ruled the state. During that period did such a thing happen? Home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is unable to do anything. We demand a judicial probe into all the deaths,’ said Chennithala.

Former Congress leader K. Karunakaran has also condemned the spate of custodial deaths.

‘The best way to contain this is the appointment of a person in the rank of a sessions judge to deal with all such issues. We would be willing to cooperate with anyone to tackle this issue,’ said Karunakaran.