The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rights panel hope to father’s wait for justice

Calcutta, April 15: A father’s wait to bring the “killers” of his son to justice may end soon.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission, probing the mysterious death of the 24-year-old youth near Siliguri for more than two years, is on the point of wrapping up its investigation. The verdict is expected soon.

On January 16, 2001, Mimlal Sapkota lodged a complaint with the commission accusing police of torturing his son Toya, Raju to friends and family, to death nine days earlier.

The father said he was compelled to take up the case with the rights body after his complaint with the police — an FIR lodged with the Matigara police station on 9.1.2001 — failed to spur an investigation.

The chairman of the rights panel, Justice Mukul Gopal Mukherjee, today said the commission had launched an investigation after it received a complaint from the father on 16.1.2001 about the mysterious death of his son and the police inaction.

“We had carried out our own investigation and asked the police officials concerned to explain their stands,” Mukherjee said. “We will announce our judgment after receiving the statements from the officials.”

In his complaint with the panel, Sapkota said policemen from the Sevok outpost under the Matigara police station arrested his son on the evening of January 7, 2001. The next morning, the father said his body was found near the Sevok Coronation bridge in Siliguri, with multiple injuries.

Toya, who ran a D.T.P. centre called Graphic Printer at New Darjeeling More in Siliguri, was returning from Kalijhora, a picnic spot, on a scooter. His friend Altaf was travelling on his pillion.

Drunk on beer — they were said to have consumed three bottles at the picnic spot — they were weaving through the streets when the scooter with a broken silencer turned turtle near the Sevok Kali temple. Three policemen from the Sevok outpost patrolling the area suddenly appeared. They seized the scooter and told the youths to come to the outpost.

Toya asked Altaf to go to the outpost while he went to see a friend living nearby to get some help. When Toya reached the outpost, sub-inspector Ajoy Kumar Roy and constable Prabhat Chandra Das were grilling Altaf.

Later, Altaf revealed that Toya was arrested on arrival. Then, he said, the policemen started beating Toya in front of him.

According to a police report with the rights panel, Altaf managed to flee the outpost while the two officials were busy “torturing” Toya.

He met a common friend, Lachhey, after fleeing the outpost and sought his help in getting Raju out of custody.

On the same evening, Raju’s father Mimlal said he had received a phone call from the Matigara police station, which includes the Sevok outpost, asking him to come and get his son released on bail.

“They told me if I did not get there soon, my son would be sent to court the next morning,” the father said in his complaint.

Mimlal, accompanied by some friends, raced to the outpost from their Pradhan Nagar residence. By the time they got there around 9:30 pm, the father said sub-inspector Roy told him that his son and his friend had fled the outpost.

The next morning, Mimlal said he received a phone call from Roy, asking him to rush to the outpost. When he went there, he said the officer took him to the Sevok coronation bridge and pointed to a body lying about 300 feet below on the bank of the Teesta. When the father clambered down, he saw his son lying lifeless with multiple injuries.

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