New Delhi: A 25-year-old man died in police custody in North East Delhi's Nand Nagari Police Station on Thursday soon after he was arrested on charges of illicit liquor trading. This is the third death in police custody in the last 12 days. Reports suggest that Govinda Yadav and his accomplice Nayeem were arrested from Sundar Nagari under the Excise Act and taken to Nand Nagari Police Station.
Police officials claimed that Govinda was rushed to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital after he complained of uneasiness around 10:30 p.m. Soon, he fell unconscious and attempts to revive him did not succeed. After his relatives accused the policemen of violence and foul play, the Delhi Police suspended three constables.
While the police official denied any foul play, they acknowledged issues in registering the First Information Report (FIR). The incident will now be investigated by a Metropolitan Magistrate. However, family members and relatives refuse to acknowledge the police’s version.
Reshma, the victim's sister, alleged that she was not only denied any meeting with the accused but was also demanded a hefty bribe in lieu of bail. “I was called to Nand Nagri police station at 7 p.m but they didn’t let me meet my brother. Instead, the officers demanded money for bail. I told them we can’t afford to pay that much,” Reshma was quoted by The Indian Express as saying. The father of the victim said they were informed only after his death.
However, the number of deaths in custody of Delhi Police seem to be rising.
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Prior to Govinda's death, Vipin Messy, a resident of Kalyanpuri, too, lost his life in police custody in the Delhi Cantonment Police Station. Reports suggest a similar story where the family members and relatives alleged that they were informed about Vipin's condition only after his death. He was arrested on charges of duping an elderly man.
However, it was the alleged suicide of Balraj Singh in Bawana Police station that brought the functioning of Delhi Police into question. Singh jumped from the building of the police station soon after the Delhi Police questioned him about his son's whereabouts. The victim's son had claimed that he may be killed if he does not come to his rescue.
“My father called me around 7.30 p.m, saying he will be killed inside the police station if I do not come and save him. I was not in Delhi at that time… I had left the city as I did not want to face the repercussions of my brother’s crimes. We will approach the necessary authorities so that action may be taken,” reports quoted Singh’s son as saying. Soon after the incident, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to Delhi Police regarding non-compliance of procedures laid down by it.
"The allegations levelled by the family members appear serious in nature police. It is difficult to believe, as reportedly claimed by police, that a 58-year-old man after questioning went to have wear before leaving, which is when he jumped to death from the third floor of the police station,” the NHRC had said in a press statement.
“Apparently, the death has not occurred in normal circumstances. A thorough probe into the matter is required, to identify and punish the guilty as a precious human life has come to a tragic end."
Independent findings suggest that proving violence and subjugation in case of custodial deaths remains a distant dream. A report by People’S Union for Democratic Rights highlighted, "in most cases of deaths in police custody there are no independent (non-police) witnesses." In fact, the police were the sole witnesses.
The report also stated that eight out 10 victims hailed from poor socio-economic background. Another reason for inaction in these matters can be found in the complete reluctance of police officials in conducting a fair investigation. The report added that there was police complicity, whether or not they were directly involved in the custodial death, in “explaining away the victim’s death through wider sociological and psychological factors, rather than seriously examining the allegation of custodial torture."