UP: Police 'High-Handedness' Alleged Behind Minor’s Death in Lakhimpur, 3 Cops Suspended
Lucknow: In yet another instance of alleged high-handedness of the police, a 17-year-old boy in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district died on Sunday, four days after allegedly being thrashed by policemen inside a police outpost. The minor was accused of stealing his uncle's cellphone.
The family of the victim claimed that police did not initially register their complaint. But when they approached the police chief, an FIR was lodged. Three policemen -- a sub-inspector and two constables, including an officer-in-charge of the outpost -- have been suspended and an inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
Circle Officer, Mirganj, Manoj Pandey said a probe will be held to find why the FIR was not registered promptly in such a serious matter. However, Lakhimpur Kheri SSP Sanjeev Suman denied the police’s role in the incident. He claimed the boy's questioning happened in the presence of his family members and he was freed after interrogation.
"We are investigating the complaint against the policemen and no one will be spared if found guilty," the SSP said. A video, now viral on social media, has the boy's family showing external injuries on his body to a senior policeman.
Palia Circle Officer (CO), Sanjay Nath Tiwari said, "The post-mortem will be conducted on Monday and the report will help us to ascertain the reason of death.
"The boy's family has filed two complaints and we have registered an FIR under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code against his uncle Ram Bahadur and neighbour Rajveer Singh. The second complaint is against a sub-inspector and two constables. We are probing the case in detail and will take action against the cops in question, accordingly, Tiwari said.
A complaint was lodged against Rahul Pandey of Kamalapuri village by his uncle at Khajuria post on January 17, accusing him of stealing two mobile phones. After this, the police called Rahul for questioning. Rahul's mother, who took her son to the police station, said that the cops assured her to release Rahul after questioning.
The Rahul’s elder sister alleged that her brother, a day before his death, told her that he was thrashed by cops for a "confession".
Narrating the sequence of events, she said, "The cops landed at our house for my brother. My mother accompanied them to a nearby police outpost and she was sent back home. After a few hours, we received a call to take my brother. But when my parents reached there, they found him badly beaten and crying in pain. He said he was beaten mercilessly by cops and my uncle. They brought him home and when his condition deteriorated, he was admitted to a hospital in Palia town where he succumbed to his injuries during treatment."
However, Gurbaj Singh, the village head of Kamalapuri, said, "Rahul's mother came to me. I went to the police outpost. But the police said that they will leave after questioning. On January 19, the police released him after signing an agreement. When he came back home, Rahul did not even tell us that the police had beaten him up. But he had some fight with his uncle when he reached home."
The boy was the only son of farmer Laxmi Ram and youngest amongst four siblings. On January 17, the mobile phone of his cousin went "missing" and his uncle Ram Bahadur lodged a police complaint and the cops reached the house on January 19 and took him to Khajuriya police outpost where the incident took place.
In such a situation, questions are being raised about the role of the police; if Rahul was called by the police on the basis of the complaint on January 17 and then kept in custody till January 19, the question is was his condition fine when the police handed him over to the family members.
Growing Instances of Police Excesses
The police’s high-handedness in Lakhimpur Kheri comes three months after another alleged custodial death in Kasganj where Mohammad Altaf, 22, who was held by police for "kidnapping" a minor Hindu girl, was later found "hanging" from a tap inside a washroom in the lock-up. The missing girl turned out to be an adult and later told police that she was never kidnapped.
In another such incident in Agra, a sanitation worker, Arun Valmiki, who was held by police for allegedly stealing Rs 25 lakh from the strong room of Jagdishpura police station, had died in police custody.
In a similar case, a 25-year-old youth arrested for theft, who was allegedly tortured in police custody, succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Kanpur, prompting the state government to initiate inquiry against police personnel, including the police station in charge.
The deceased, identified as Jitendra alias Kallu, was picked up by cops from his residence at Madhavpuram, in the Kalyanpur area of Kanpur, on November 14 afternoon on the suspicion of being involved in a Rs 14-lakh theft in his neighbour's house. Jitendra was allegedly tortured in police custody for several hours before he developed complications. He died before reaching the government hospital in Kanpur city.
Commenting over the incident and growing instances of similar cases, former UP inspector general SR Darapuri told Newsclick that Uttar Pradesh had become a police oppression state in view of the police excesses on the public and the Yogi Adityanath government was responsible for this.
"Yogi government made the police so cruel and autocratic that even in a small matter, the police become hell bent to torture that leads to death. The custodial deaths used to happen earlier as well but ever since Yogi assumed power, the state police have been arresting people on petty things and taking lives," he told Newsclick.
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