Farm owner death in Kudappana: Family alleges murder by forest officers
Pathanamthitta/Seethathodu: The family of the Mathayi (41), a farm owner who was found dead in a well after forest officers took him for interrogation, reiterated their allegation that his death was a murder. Mathayi’s wife Sheeba stated that they would go to any extent to bring out the truth regarding his death. Sheeba alleged that the officers had demanded a bribe of Rs 75,000 through middlemen, to free Mathayi from custody.
Mathayi was taken into custody for interrogation by forest officers from his residence in Areekkakavu on Tuesday evening at 4 pm. However, there was no case registered against Mathayi by forest department. After 2 hours, Mathayi’s body was found inside the well of his family residence, which is 7 km away.
Mathayi was interrogated alleging that he destroyed the camera that was set up in Kudappana to identify the presence of wild animals and that he dumped farm waste in the forest.
The forest officers have been unable to give any convincing explanation regarding how Mathayi fell inside the well. They had stated that Mathayi jumped into the well and that locals stopped them from rescuing him. However, it is suspected that he fell inside the well following a tussle with the officers and they did not try to rescue him.
There were seven forest officers, including a woman, present when the incident took place. The officers informed about the incident only at a later stage. And by the time the locals started gathering, the officers left the area, leaving their vehicle behind.
Police filed a case for unnatural death and started investigation. Narcotic cell DySP NS Pradeepkumar was entrusted with the investigation. A police group led by district police chief, KG Simon, reached Kudappana on Wednesday, along with forensic experts.
Department level investigation was also announced in connection with the case. This was led by Chief Forest Conservator (Southern circle), Sanjayan Kumar. He visited Ranni on Wednesday and will file a report on the case within two days.
The officers involved with the incident have been asked to stay away from work. But so far, no action has been taken against anyone. Ranni DFO, M Unnikrishnan, stated that there was no lapse from the part of the officers, according to preliminary observation.
Mathayi’s body is kept inside the mortuary of a private hospital in Pathanamthitta. Post mortem of the body will be held at Kottayam Medical College on Thursday after COVID test.