India: Chhattisgarh police face another charge of custodial death

Deccan Herald, Wednesday 22 February 2012

Raipur, Feb 20, 2012 (IANS)

Police deny allegation, open to inquiry

A 25-year-old man who died in police custody here was a victim of excessive torture, his father alleged on Monday and sought an independent probe.

Chhattisgarh Police, however, denied the charge and said they were open to magisterial inquiry.

Bhagwat Daharia, father of Santosh Daharia, claimed his son was arrested on February 14 on the charge of kidnapping a minor girl, and was excessively tortured at Kharora police station, some 30 kilometre from here. As a result, his son died, the villager said.

According to him, the police did not inform Santosh’s relatives about his death. Kharora police station personnel, however, denied that the young man was tortured.

Santosh, a police official said, was sent to the state’s Central Jail, and then admitted to Raipur’s Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Government Hospital on Saturday as he complained of “some health problem” and was vomiting.

“He was not tortured. The charges against us are baseless. We are open to magisterial inquiry,” Kharora police station chief P K Pathak said. But Pathak did not explain why he did now allow relatives to meet Santosh when he was in custody at Kharora police station.

‘Not allowed to meet’

Bhagwat alleged that he and his relatives were repeatedly disallowed by policemen at Kharora police station and also at the Raipur Central Jail to meet or see Santosh even after they learnt of his death.

I H Khan, additional superintendent of police (Raipur rural), said, “We are collecting details of what exactly happened to the accused. We are surely looking into complaints of the relatives very seriously.”

The custodial deaths in Chhattisgarh, mainly in forested areas of Maoist hotbed, are common as are allegations that police pick up youths from villages, brand them as Maoists and torture them routinely.