Accused in custody to be monitored for torture

Rajkumar case prompts health profiling of persons produced by police before medical officers

Medical officers of Kerala will hereafter create a basic health profile of all persons brought to them from police custody.

It is following the Rajkumar custodial death case and the recommendations of K. Narayana Kurup judicial commission, which probed the death, that the State Health authorities decided on the health profile.

Dr. R. Ramesh, the Director of Health Services, asked medical officers last week to subject all persons brought from police custody to a series of tests to find out instances of physical torture.

The tests

Renal profile, Creatine Phosphate Kinase (CPK), Urine Myoglobin, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and ultrasound scan of abdomen have to be carried out to rule out instances of internal injury, the circular said.

The tests will help in generating a baseline health data of those who are brought from police custody. It will come in handy when allegations of custodial torture are raised, he said.

According to Dr. Kavitha Ravi, a pathologist, these tests would help find traces of proteins which are released when a person sustains a muscular injury.

While CPK, a muscle enzyme, and CRP, an inflammatory marker, are estimated from blood samples, myoglobin, a muscle protein, can be traced in urine samples. High levels of muscle enzymes and proteins indicate injury to the skeletal muscles. The proteins thus released get accumulated in kidney and damage it, which can be identified through a renal function test, she said.

Rajkumar case

Earlier, the Kerala High Court had issued guidelines to judicial officers to look for instances of custodial torture when the accused were produced before them.

The intervention came after it was found that the police-inflicted injuries on Rajkumar, which led to his death, had escaped the attention of the judge, before whom he was produced.

Rajkumar, who was taken into custody on June 12, 2019, died after he was allegedly assaulted at the Nedungandam police station. The CBI had charge sheeted eight policemen and a home guard in the case. A few of the accused were also dismissed from the service.

Incidentally, an autopsy had identified pneumonia as the cause of death. However, a re-autopsy held after the judicial probe revealed that the deceased had sustained 22 serious injuries.

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