Chennai: Intellectually Disabled Man Dies In Accident After Getting Lost; Family Blames Police For Delay In Search Operation
On January 13, an intellectually disabled young man Praveen Kumar was separated from his mother at a bus stop in Chennai on his way to work.
Praveen had a steady job for over 5 years after he finished his schooling. But he needed his mother’s assistance to get to work. When he was separated, his mother along with one of his colleagues searched the area, but in vain. They finally went to Teynampet Police Station to lodge an FIR at 9 am and it was formally recorded by the police at 5 pm, claims the family.
The day after he went missing, while walking down the Anna Salai stretch opposite Devi Theatre, Praveen was killed instantly when a vehicle crashed into the subway outside the head post office. Four days after his death, the initial FIR was uploaded in the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).
Another FIR was lodged at Chintadripet police station on the basis of a witness testimony, barring his statement that the driver was obviously very drunk.
Disability Rights Alliance has written a letter to the commissioner of police, greater Chennai, uring action. They claim that every subsequent action by the police (from sharing description over the wireless from the police control room to disseminating Praveen’s photo over WhatsApp groups, etc) seem to have been triggered by a corresponding nudge from the citizen’s end.
In the afternoon of January 16, the citizen team’s hotline number received a call from Chintadripet police station stating an unidentified dead body in the morgue could possibly match that of the WhatsApp photo they’d received. As Praveen’s face was quite battered due to the head injury he’d incurred, it was communicated to the police that positive identification could only be made jointly by his parents and therefore necessitate a day’s wait pending his father’s arrival from Sabarimala where he was cut off from mobile communication.
Ten days after Praveen went missing, the missing person FIR lodged on January 13 which went online after Praveen’s funeral remains unconnected to the FIR filed after his accident.
Praveen’s body lay in the morgue unidentified for two days while citizens continued searching actively for him. His photo was never uploaded in the unidentified dead body section of CCTNS website, wrote Disability Rights Alliance in its letter. Similarly the Mahindra Bolero van that killed Praveen has also not been entered in vehicle status of police records, the letter adds.
The Logical Indian called Teynampet police station who gave us a different account.
“The boy went missing in the morning and the family lodged an FIR in the evening. We registered the complaint on the same day it was made but as the server was down, we could not upload it on public domain. The next day, around 2-3 am in the morning he met with an accident which was brought to our notice three days later,” the police explained.
When asked what action was taken to locate Praveen, the police said, “We informed the local police stations. The entire police group has a Whatsapp group which was alerted. We also gave his full description but sadly, the boy met with an accident the very next day.”
The police also said that the driver who hit Praveen was arrested on the same day he died.