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Two Forest Dept Officials Suspended Over Alleged Custodial Death in Kerala

Representative image.

Representative image.

PP Mathayi (41) was found dead in a well on his farm near here on July 28, hours after he was picked up by forest officials for questioning over the destruction of a camera set up by the department for animal-spotting.

Two forest department officials in Kerala have been suspended, pending an enquiry,in connection with the alleged custodial death of a farmer last month.

The Department, in an order, said R Rajesh Kumar, Deputy Range Forest Officer and AK Pradeep Kumar, Section Forest officer, have been suspended, pending an enquiry.

On August 1, the Department had transferred seven officials in connection with the death of the man.

PP Mathayi (41) was found dead in a well on his farm near here on July 28, hours after he was picked up by forest officials for questioning over the destruction of a camera set up by the department for animal-spotting.

The department had claimed that the camera was destroyed to cover up dumping of waste from Mathayi's farmhouse.

"In view of the prima facie possibility that precautionary measures had not been taken by the staff concerned, the following officers are suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry," additional chief secretary Dr Asha Thomas said and named the two officials.

The order said a committee has been formed to inquire into the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the death of Mathai during "investigation of an alleged forest offense".

The post-mortem report said Mathayi had drowned and also that there were no marks of assault on the body.

However, Mathayi's family members that he had died in custody and have demanded justice.

His wife had earlier told the media that he was taken out of his home in Chittar, Pathanamthitta, by some forest department officials on Tuesday last.

Hours later, she and her two children were informed that Mathayi was found dead in a well on his farm, located 10 km from his home.

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