UP: Dalit Man Dies In Police Custody in Fatehpur, Family Accuses Police of Rs 3 Lakh Extortion
Lucknow: A 28-year-old dalit man who was summoned for questioning by Fatehpur police in a forgery case allegedly died in police custody on Sunday, casting a fresh glare on the frequency of similar deaths in the state.
Satendra Kumar is said to be the 503rd person to die in custody since the state’s BJP-led government took charge for a consecutive term in March this year. Before this, a lawyer had put the number of reported custody deaths at 600 while the state government had acknowledged 501 deaths till July 26.
The victim, Satyendra, was picked up by cops on Saturday after his name surfaced in a probe related to a forgery case of 14 ATM cards, said Rajesh Kumar Singh, superintendent of police, Radhanagar police station, Fatehpur.
"Satendra Singh was summoned by Radhanagar police after his name cropped up in a forgery/dishonesty case and recovery of 14 ATM cards. On Saturday night the accused suddenly got ill. He was immediately rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead by the attending doctor," the SP told NewsClick.
However, the cause of death is yet to be determined. The police said the cause could be determined only after the complete report.
"We have conducted proceedings on charges of murder and wrongful confinement against the three police personnel, the investigation is going on under the supervision of the Judicial Magistrate. Prima facie, seems to be an illness. But to determine the actual cause of death," Singh further said, adding that the additional SP will conduct a separate investigation into the killing.
Based on a complaint filed by the victim’s mother Ram Dulari member, an FIR has been lodged against the three suspended cops and four other unidentified policemen under sections 302, 342, 384 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.
According to the complaint accessed by NewsClick, the deceased mother alleged that her son Satendra Kumar alias Gajendra Kumar (28) was working as a medical representative (MR) and was living in a rented accommodation in Jairam Nagar. She alleged that on October 6, six policemen, including the SHO along with the SI of Radhangar police station took her younger son forcibly to the police station without any reason. Over there they brutally tortured him resulting in his death. She further said that the other police personnel called her elder son Arvind Kumar and demanded Rs 3 lakhs from him telling him that if he did not pay up then they would implicate his brother in a serious case.
The three cops who have been suspended for their alleged role in Kumar's killing are -- Sunil Singh, station in charge of Radhanagar police station; sub-inspector Vikas Singh, and constable Devendra Yadav.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kumar, elder brother of the victim, has alleged that the cops had demanded Rs 3 lakh in bribe instead of releasing his brother when he went to the police station on Saturday night to meet him.
"My brother was picked up on Wednesday and was kept in the police station for four days. On Saturday his health condition deteriorated due to the torture during interrogation and he succumbed to his wounds," the deceased brother who is a junior engineer in Irrigation Department told NewsClick.
He further added, "Satendra has expressed apprehension that something might be wrong with him over the phone. I tried to meet him twice but the police didn't let it happen. On Saturday they (cops) asked me to pay Rs 3 lakh within an hour to remove his name from 18 cases and the next day he died. How could I arrange so much money within an hour?"
In a similar case, a 40- year-old contractual employee of the power department reportedly died in police custody in UP’s Gonda district on September 15 after his health deteriorated when he was brought for interrogation in a murder case reported two days ago.
Later, the district superintendent of police (SP) suspended ten cops in connection with the death in custody.
Uttar Pradesh police high-handedness and growing custodial deaths raise questions about the claims of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about better policing and law and order in the state.
Controversy erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj district on November 8 last year after the death of a young Muslim allegedly died in police custody.
The family of the deceased has alleged that he was tortured by police in lockup, which led to his death. Police, however, claimed that the accused killed himself using the drawstring of his jacket’s hood when he went to the lockup washroom.
There is one commonality in all police custody cases the complainants accused UP Police of extortion () to remove the name from the alleged crime and when they failed to give the said amount, they were found dead in different circumstances.
HIGHEST CUSTODIAL DEATHS IN UP
Uttar Pradesh has reported the highest number of custodial deaths () among all states and Union Territories in the last two years, the Centre told Parliament on July 27.
In 2020-’21, Uttar Pradesh recorded 451 custodial deaths, while the number rose to 501 in 2021-’22. The total number of custodial deaths in India increased from 1,940 in 2020-21 to 2,544 in 2021-22, according to government data.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai presented the data in response to a question by Indian Union Muslim League MP Abdussamad Samadani.
On whether the government has set up any mechanism to investigate complaints of custodial deaths, Rai replied that the police and public order are subjects that fall under the State List in the Constitution.
“However, the Centre issues advisories from time to time and has also enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which stipulates the establishment of the NHRC [National Human Rights Commission] and State Human Rights Commissions to look into the alleged human rights violations by public servants,” Rai added in his reply.
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