Sri Lanka death in detention: family rejects official version

The family of the Tamil youth, Chandran Vithushan, who died while in police custody have rejected the autopsy report.

Speaking to local media amidst a sombre atmosphere the family raised many issues challenging the official version.

As suspicion continue to rise surrounding his death, his body was buried on Friday morning. Police have obtained a court order banning any protest.

Chandran Vithushan who was taken away by police on Wednesday (2) night on allegations of drug peddling was brought dead the early morning on Thursday. The family was informed by the police that he died in the hospital 'after falling ill at the Police station.'

The special Judicial Medical Officer Arasaratnam Elangovan told local media that the victim died due to swallowing packets containing ‘ice’- a form of the potent stimulant drug Methamphetamine.

“On swallowing four packets containing 'ice' – which burst in the chest area affected the lungs causing his death was revealed in the autopsy.”

Even though his body was handed over to the family on Friday morning, the autopsy report is yet to be handed over to them. Family members say they were informed that the report would be made available to them on Thursday next (10 June).

However, family members are not prepared to believe the official version of the cause leading to his death.

'Smashed on the floor'

His younger sister Caroline Chandran demands the truth to be revealed.

“These people are lying. Justice should be rendered to my elder brother. I will not stop until then. I saw my brother being beaten to death. He was lifted and smashed on the floor and on the wall. Even the wall has cracked. Do they have that much power”?

She also raises apprehension that swallowing of ‘ice’ packets was the cause of his death.

“If he has been handcuffed behind how could he have swallowed it?......These people are trying to cover up everything. The truth should prevail” she told JDS.

The parents too are not convinced with the ‘autopsy version’ of his death. K Chandran, father of deceased Vithushan, says no such drugs were found by the police when they searched the house.

“They took hold of him searching for ‘ice’ and unable to find it on him came into the premises to search for it and nothing was found. He was beaten and taken in a vehicle”.


Chandran suspects the police would have forcefully stuffed the packets containing ‘ice’ into his mouth.

“Probably they would have assaulted him brutally due to their anger and would have blown up the case as a big one. Sometimes they would have closed his nose suffocating him and forcefully put the 'ice' in his mouth and poured water over it. So what could he have done….the only way is to swallow it”.

According to Chandran the police came to the family home in the early morning of Thursday and informed them that he is hospitalised on a small issue and took the mother along. But on reaching the hospital the family was informed about his death.

The family has vowed to fight till justice is rendered to their loved one.

Chandran Vithushan was picked up by plainclothes men claiming to be from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and after allegedly assaulting him, was taken to the Batticaloa police station and locked up.

The family strongly believes the inhuman attack by the police on his head and neck led to the injury rather than the office version of ‘’ICE caused the death’’

The Human Rights commission of Sri Lanka has said in a span of 6 months from May - October in 2020 eight deaths have taken place in police custody.

In May this year two alleged underworld figures were shot dead by the Sri Lanka Police within two days.

The Upper Tribunal of the UK in their recent judgment said, “torture is endemic in Sri Lanka”.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.