Shameful policing in Tamil Nadu electrocutes a high-profile ‘dead-end’

Chennai is in the news for the wrong reasons yet again on the issue of the brutal murder of 24-year-old S. Swathi, a software engineer employed in Infosys.

Her alleged killer, P Ramkumar, reportedly committed suicide in the high security Puzhal prison located 20 km northwest of the southern metropolis’s power centre – Fort St George.


Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honour aspires to it; grief flies to it; fear preoccupies it, said Francis Bacon.

That roughly sums up Tamil Nadu’s lopsided policing system – a state where there is neither law nor order and is the crying shame of its highly corrupt uniformed fraternity! It also entails the dead-ends of 2 lives. The first was an innocent 24-year-old girl Swathi. She reportedly spurned the advances of a stalker and got fatally chopped. Ramkumar, her alleged tormentor took his secrets to a mysterious end, in a virtually unbelievable method of suicide inside a high security prison. It betrays that the police department badly needs story-tellers who can spin a logical yarn to justify the most illogical incident.

Ramkumar allegedly committed suicide by “pulling and biting into a live electric wire” inside the southern metropolis Chennai’s central prison in Puzhal on September 19 2016, officials said.

Operative excerpts from The Hindu:

According to a prison official, around 4.30 p.m., a jail warder heard an unusual sound and rushed to find Ramkumar lying unconscious with a live electric wire in his mouth near the dispensary block. It is “presumed” that he pulled out the live wire from a switchboard and bit it.

After switching off the main power, the warder, with the assistance of others, rushed Ramkumar to the prison hospital where first-aid was administered. Since his pulse was deteriorating, doctors referred him to the Government Royapettah Hospital where Ramkumar was declared “dead on arrival”.

Ramkumar’s lawyers were about to move the court for his bail plea on September 19. A phone call from the prison around 4.40 p.m. said Ram Kumar was being taken to a hospital after he suffered stomach disorder. A few minutes later, another caller said Ramkumar was dead. “He was healthy when I met him last in the prison on August 11”, the victim’s father Paramasivam said on phone from Tirunelveli, located 600 km south of Chennai.

In July, the Chennai police had claimed that Ramkumar had slit his throat when they had gone to his house in Tirunelveli district to arrest him.

Alleging foul play in his death, several politicians including Leader of Opposition M.K. Stalin demanded an independent probe into the matter.

Compare the incident with what Vijay Kumar, the new Additional Director General of Police, Prisons Department, Tamil Nadu has to say:

Prison is a vital arm of the Criminal Administration System. The Personnel of the Prison Department have the onerous task of protecting the Society from those incarcerated by due process of law. The Penal System in the Modern times has undergone several Changes and the focus is now on Reformation and Rehabilitation and not retribution and punishment.

Human rights are inalienable rights and every inmate of the prison has a right to be treated with dignity. Prison walls are not an impediment to the penetration of Human rights. 

Mahatma Gandhi said “The prisoners are wards of the State and not Slaves”. The prison personnel have been suitably sensitized on the nature of their duties through intensive basic and in service training.

Prison Department sincerely dedicates itself for the cause of peace and tranquility in society.

Of course, death is a tranquil state in itself.

Swathi was murdered on June 24 early morning in the left ventricle of the city.

Operative excerpts from the blog penned by this writer in July:

The 24-year-old victim was hacked to death between 6 and 7 in the morning. The scene of crime is one of the platforms of Nungambakkam railway station. The minor rail terminal is located on the main route that links Chennai to the rest of the state. The city police headquarters is a mere 3.8 km to the northwest of the scene of crime.

Swathi, a 24-year-old female Infosys employee was brutally hacked to death at the Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai on June 24 around 6 am. The ill-fated victim was bound for Mahindra Tech City in the suburbs where she worked, a credible news website said.

The victim lived virtually next door to the railway terminal. She was dropped at the station by her father retired civil servant male parent Santhana Gopalakrishnan, a few minutes before the murder.

Close-circuit television cameras in the vicinity captured images of a young man wearing black trousers and a checked shirt – whom – unnamed eyewitnesses have identified as her murderer.

The perpetrator, it is said, had a loud quarrel with her before hacking her fatally with a machete.

Many glaring details have been conspicuously left out by the sections of Chennai’s paid press. Its majority comprises amateur cowboys and cowgirls only chase fat envelopes stuffed with currency notes and other trappings obtained through abuse of power.

The city police headquarters and the state railway police headquarters are located some 3 km from the scene of crime in Egmore. While the public apathy is being flayed, the careless, cavalier attitude of the brown shirt top brass isn’t even being mentioned.

None of the reports indicate as to whether the Additional Director General of Police in charge of the state’s railway police wing [the name on the cops’ relevant website is Seema Agarwal, IPS] held an enquiry to find out what her subordinates, meant to patrol the platforms 24/7, were doing when the reprehensible event took place. Whether some responsibility for dereliction of duty was fixed remains a total mystery. The same duties are meant to be performed by the Railway Protection Force. There has been no action in that turf as well.

The names appearing as the zonal head [rank of CSC – SC Parhi and the all India DGP – RPF – Surendra Kumar Bhagat do not figure in any of the press reports. This is despite the fact that it is incumbent upon these officials to hold inquiries, fix responsibility and punish those who did not perform their duty.

Incidentally, Seema Agarwal was invited to the United States of America as per letter dated April 18 2016, signed by Cecelia R, to attend the International Association of Chiefs of Police [IACP] to be held in a facility maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, Virginia, US of A between June 20 and 24 2016.

The expenses were to be met by India. In the absence of Seema Agarwal, Deputy Inspector General of Police – J Bhaskaran, conducted enquiries, by cursorily visiting the station for a few minutes. He made the usual noises like a seasoned rooster.

So far, none in the railway police – with central and state regimes’ denominations – has been hauled up for dereliction of duty – at the time of writing.

Media reports do not indicate as to whether the General Manager Vasishta Johri – whose residence is located very close to the scene of crime visited the spot or ordered an enquiry to find out what the on-duty Station Master and/or Assistant Station Master in Nungambakkam were up to at the time of occurrence. Significantly, the offices of the SM are located within 20 metres of the spot where Swathi was killed. As a matter of rule, the officiating SM ought to be standing on the platform to monitor long distance trains plying on the route and wave the green flag.

The uninformed consider this waving to be a meaningless formality. Railways’ internal manuals say that the SMs are meant to pay close attention to any unusual noise emanating from long-distance trains clickety-clack on the tracks – to discern forthcoming mishaps while whizzing past without stopping. The exercise of SMs patrolling the platform, the rule books add, also is meant to ensure the official maintains an alert vigil on the railway platform to prevent untoward incidents.

A team of the city police was assisting the government railway police (GRP) in cracking the case, commissioner T K Rajendran said.

[Rajendran has since been promoted and posted as Director General of Police, in charge of the entire state.]

The GRP suffers from a severe staff crunch, sources said. Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted his reaction: “Directed Member (Staff) Rly Board 2 provide all help, tk up da issue wth State Govt fr taking immediate appropriate actn 2 book da culprit.”

All this is expected to produce results measurable in less than zilch.

The state police outfit has highly reprehensible record in cover-ups of crimes.

The biggest cover-ups by Tamil Nadu cops with the connivance of the Central Bureau of Investigation have placed heavy lids on the nation’s biggest scandals.

  1. The telecom scandal – with the 5-year-old stink of the suspected murder of former Union Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja’s aide – Sadiq Batcha was botched by the Chennai police. This is despite the emergence of a televised statement of an individual who claimed to have killed Batcha with the help of a serving Inspector General of Police Jaffer Sait! The great ‘investigative journalist geniuses’ of Chennai are totally silent about it.
  2. Former Union Minister P Chidambaram – who continues to wield a weird influence over the Central Bureau of Investigation and the local police – is involved in huge misdemeanours.
  3. Another strange incident concerns the lies about the murder of former PM Rajiv Gandhi – uttered by – yet again – the same Chidambaram. Yet, despite the ‘popular’ belief that he is on the wrong side of state Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the recount minister is not touched either by the TN cops or by the CBI. And then, there are strange truths about the Harvard don – euphemistically known as the Chidambaram Secrets. All these have been buried – with what seems like criminal willingness on part of the Tamil Nadu police.
  4. One of India’s biggest scandals concerns the one concerning Granite Exports by a gang of criminals. Despite the passage of over 5 years, precious little has happened despite the intervention of the Madras High Court. This is despite the cops being given all the details of the scandal whose worth is believed to be in excess Rs.20 lakh crores! None has cared to record that initially state cops had termed the scandal worth Rs.17,000 crores – hugely contradicted by a probe conducted by an IAS officer Sagayam, who said the scam is worth Rs.1.10 lakh crores! It involves a triple murder, secret Swiss bank accounts and the list of accused could include former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and former DGPs!

Author: haritsv

42 years' unblemished record of being an investigative journalist. Print quality journalist in 3 languages - English, Tamil, Hindi. Widely travelled, worldwide. Cantankerous and completely honest.

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