Video from dead driver’s phone alleges police harassment

Chennai: Exactly a year after a driver immolated himself at OMR following an altercation with the police, cab driver Rajesh from Kanchipuram ended his life, holding the city police responsible for his death.

Rajesh Murthy (25), a resident of Kammavarpalayam, Kanchipuram, died 25 January after being run over by a train between the railway tracks of M M Nagar and Singaperumal Koil at 1 pm. The police treated the case as suicide due to family issues until a video from his phone surfaced.

The phone had been handed over to his family by the police but the files had been formatted. However, a family relative, suspicious about his death, used a recovery software and found a video Rajesh had made before he passed away. The video has Rajesh narrating the ordeal he suffered at the hands of the police. He said he was upset by the way they abused him vulgarly and stated that the city police was responsible for his death.

In the 3-minute-45-second video, a visibly upset and teary-eyed Rajesh says, “This morning at 8.05 am, at a traffic signal at Anna Nagar I picked up a woman employee of DLF, Ramapuram. The second pick up was a man and we were waiting for him on the roadside near a garbage bin. Two policemen came from behind, I do not know if they used a lathi or their hands, they banged on the vehicle and yelled at me to move the vehicle from the spot. I drove down further and parked at an empty street. They again came and abused me verbally despite the  presence of a woman in the car.”

Speaking about this bad experience, he talked about yet another incident, “Yesterday, at Thiruvotriyur, I was sleeping inside the car on a service road. The police locked my vehicle and made me pay a fine of Rs 500. I asked for a receipt but they merely scolded me.”

He also spoke at length about the difficulties of the job of a driver. “I just get three-and-a-half hours of sleep every day. I end my day at 1.30 am. We almost die every day being a driver. On top of that the police harass us. The reason for my death is Chennai police and no one else. Let my death be the last one for this reason. Last year, a driver died for the same reason at Taramani. Was any action taken? The department simply transfers out the police, but the same things are happening again.”