Nine police officers, including the inspector of Chennai’s Kodungaiyur police station, are booked on Thursday for custodial torture of a 21-year-old law student, following public outrage.
Last week, Abdul Rahim, a final year law student was allegedly stripped and assaulted by police personnel inside the police station for questioning the officers. He was also booked for allegedly assaulting a police officer— a claim Rahim denies.
“They should be charged with [IPC] 326 and 307 for attempt to murder. I almost died when they stripped me naked and urinated on me” Rahim told Maktoob, who remains hospitalised.
The issue became public after Rahim’s video of being assaulted inside the station surfaced on the internet. Several law students and advocates staged protests against Rahim’s custodial torture in front of the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Nine officers are booked based on an inquiry report submitted to the Chennai Commissioner of Police. Earlier, three officers were suspended.
The State Human Rights Commission has taken a suo motu cognizance of the matter.
On 14 January, Rahim, a part-time employee at a pharmacy shop, was picked up by police at 11:30 pm for not wearing masks on his way back home.
“I had worn a mask after seeing police officers at a distance. The roads were empty and I was having nasal congestion that day. I even showed them my pharmacy identity card” Rahim told Maktoob.
Rahim was initially fined Rs 500 for being outside past the curfew time without a mask, which he refused to pay. An argument broke out between them and police seized Rahim’s cycle.
At the police station, the fine was increased to Rs 1500. Rahim refused to pay the fine and demanded the release of his cycle. He also pointed out that he was innocent and reminded police to behave well with civilians. Infuriated, police inspector picked Rahim by the collar, kept beating and dragged him inside the station.
According to Rahim, he unintentionally hit the inspector’s face during the commotion, escalating the situation.
“I sensed that things would turn really ugly and kept my phone camera on. I have tried my best to record. Being a law student, I clearly know only evidence would stand while fighting for justice,” says Rahim.
Rahim was asked to remove his clothes and the CCTV camera at the police station was turned away. He was beaten until he bled and was sent to the hospital for stitching the wound.
He was verbally abused too in the custody.
“In turns, they kept hitting me on my palms, back and foot till morning.
I was abused for saying that I am an LLB student. They even said that I escaped many beatings of police officials on leave since it was Pongal and a good day. But then they abused me religiously asking but what good is Pongal to me,” narrates Rahim.
The nine police officers are charged under IPC sections 294, 323 and 324, which are provisions for the usage of obscenity and voluntarily causing hurt.
“When I started to bleed, I was asked to clean them. And while washing clothes in the toilet, a police officer even urinated on me and my clothes” Raheem said to Vikatan, a local media outlet.
An FIR was charged against Rahim for assaulting police. “They asked me to show moles. When I said I got none, they stripped me naked and examined me.”
“I want to fight this case legally using evidence with patience and perseverance. An ordinary lockdown night round was taken by police to the extreme of custodial torture only because they could not stand a civilian talking back to them,” Rahim pointed out to Maktoob.
“Having experienced police brutality, I believe it is my duty and purpose to fight custodial torture,” he added.