UP: Youth Brought for Questioning Dies in Police Custody, Family Alleges Torture
Lucknow: A 35- year-old man died in police custody in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district after his health reportedly deteriorated on Friday where he was brought for interrogation in a harassment case reported two days ago. The incident sparked suspicion over alleged police high-handedness, with the youth’s family crying foul.
Lavkesh Sharma, 35, a grocery shop owner, a resident of Meera Gali in Daraganj area, was picked up by the police on Wednesday after a woman who lives in the neighbourhood filed a complaint against him over a parking issue.
The police said he "died of illness" and there was no excess on their part. However, family members of the deceased said he was brought to the police post on Wednesday evening for interrogation but this morning they were informed that he had died. "We suspect the police to have tortured him which led to his death," alleged angry relatives and villagers, showing his clothes they got from the police post.
Prayagraj superintendent of police (city) Santosh Kumar Meena told NewsClick: "We had received information from the Daraganj police station that a clash broke out over parking in the area. One person Lavkesh Sharma was taken into custody for abusing and indecency against a woman who lives in the same area. He was booked under CrPC Sections 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences), 107 (security for keeping peace in other cases) and 116 (inquiry as to the truth of information).”
When asked how Sharma died, the SP said: "He suddenly fell ill and was taken to Beli Hospital for medical examination. First, he was tested for Covid, which was negative. He fell ill and then died. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination and further action is underway."
The SP denied allegations of the deceased’s family members that he was beaten up in police custody.
Meanwhile, Shiv Kumar Sharma, the deceased father, alleged that the cops had demanded Rs 5,000 as bribe in lieu of releasing his son when he went to the police station on Wednesday night to meet him.
"I had gone to the Daraganj police station where my son was kept. The cops assured me that it was not a very serious matter. They said they will release my son after interrogation but they also put a condition of bribe. I told them I am a poor man and cannot afford Rs 5,000 but they turned a deaf ear. Not only this, my wife along with our elder son Ghanshyam had gone to the police station to give blankets and tea to Lavkesh late at night. Bribe to release my son was also demanded from them," Sharma told NewsClick.
Refuting police allegations that Lavkesh died due to illness, his father said they saw “injury marks on his son’s body, and blood”. "The body wrapped in a white sheet was shown in the post-mortem house of Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital. There were blood stains on the sheet."
DISPUTE OVER PARKING
A dispute over parking reportedly was going on between Lavkesh and Lallu Kumar -- both from Meera Gali of Daraganj area – since the past few weeks. Rajshree, Lallu's wife, lodged a complaint against Lavkesh for misbehaving. "On Wednesday, there was a heated argument between my brother and Lallu. Lavkesh had parked his vehicle near Lallu Kumar’s house and he had damaged it in anger. Later, Kumar’s wife Rajshree slapped my brother multiple times in front of everyone and then went to the police station and lodged a complaint. The same evening, policemen landed at my house and took my brother and put him in the lock-up,” the victim's father, told NewsClick.
Sharma also accused the police of hiding evidence, saying his son had no medical condition and was healthy. "He was completely fit and had no medical issues," he said.
Meanwhile, Lavkesh’s family blamed the police for his death and said they were preparing to file a complaint against the policemen and Lallu Kumar and his wife alleging murder. "The police are responsible for my brother’s murder and we will only accept the body after an FIR is lodged against the policemen responsible,” said Ghanshyam, the victim’s elder brother.
Last month, three cops were suspended over the death of a 30-year-old dalit man in police custody in UP's Fatehpur district. Based on a complaint filed by the victim’s mother, an FIR was lodged against the three suspended cops and four other unidentified policemen on charges of murder and under relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.
The victim, Satyendra, was picked up by cops after his name surfaced in a probe related to a forgery case of 14 ATM cards. He was picked up by the police for interrogation but he suddenly got ill. He was immediately rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead by the attending doctor.
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