Man beaten to death by Kannur MPís gunman was not a pick-pocket, says family

The police have registered a murder charge against the gunman of Congress MP from Kannur K Sudhakaran and another person who allegedly thrashed a passenger to death inside a state transport bus in Perumbavoor, near Kochi on Monday night.

While the victim was alleged to have stolen some money, a key witness to the incident, however, said no pick-pocketing had taken place inside the bus.

Sudhakaran, meanwhile, came to the rescue of his gunman Satheesh saying he was innocent. "It is common in Kerala to manhandle pick-pockets. What the bus passengers executed is the common punishment for thieves. My gunman had only gone to rescue him. The CPM has falsely fixed the blame on my gunman,'' Sudhakaran said.

Family of the deceased, Raghu (37), said he was "murdered for carrying nearly Rs 20,000 which he had collected after pledging his ring with a bank". Raghu's friend Balan told the media that on August 26 Raghu had given him a ring of one-and-half sovereign to pledge with a cooperative bank for Rs 10,000. "He entrusted the ring with me as I am a member of the cooperative bank in Palakkad. On Monday, he paid the interest for the gold loan and renewed it for Rs 19,000. I had given him the amount,'' said Balan.

Quoting bus conductor F Shinas, police sources said there was no incident of pick-pocketing. "But the accused had claimed they had lost money. A mobile phone had gone missing, which they got back. We are yet to verify their claims," they said.

Shinas's account of the incident differed from Sudhakaran's version. "The victim and one of the accused were sitting in the same seat when the bus left Thrissur. A few people told me that they had seen a person (the victim) picking up a mobile phone from the pocket of another passenger (Santosh), who was half asleep. I went to the passenger and asked him to see whether his mobile phone was in pocket. The phone was found lying on the bus floor. The passenger, who had lost the mobile, manhandled the other person (Raghu), while others prevented him. I had asked the passenger (later identified as the accused) whether he had any complaint. Since there was no complaint, the bus continued its journey until Perumbavoor, where both of them alighted,'' he said.

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