The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two axed for custody death
- Widow of betting racket probe victim nails sub-inspector duo

Two sub-inspectors of Posta police station were suspended on Tuesday in connection with the death of Arun Lakhotia, a businessman whom the police had rounded up for his alleged involvement in a cricket betting racket. The suspension order was issued by police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty.

The Posta police had taken Lakhotia into custody from Phoolbagan two months ago to question him on a betting racket. During interrogation, he fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital, where he later died.

Lakhotia’s family alleged that he had died of police torture. But the cops denied the allegation. “We did not arrest Lakhotia. He was brought to the thana only for interrogation and he fell ill in the middle of questioning. We admitted him to a private hospital and informed his family,” said a police officer.

Lakhotia’s family then knocked at the Lalbazar police headquarters for justice. “His wife met the top brass, including additional commissioner (II) Prasun Mukherjee. She had enough evidence to prove that Lakhotia was beaten up in the police station,” said an official.

The victim’s family lodged complaints with the State Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission as well. Both the commissions, then, asked the police to submit a report.

“We initiated an inquiry on the basis of the complaint lodged by Lakhotia’s wife, even before the directives of the two commissions had reached us,” the police official added.

Initially, then deputy commissioner of police Zulfiquar Hasan was in charge of the investigation. But later, additional commissioner (II) Mukherjee was assigned the task. After going through Mukherjee’s report — which took him over a month and a half to prepare — commissioner Chakraborty found the two sub-inspectors, Subodh Kumar Chatterjee and Mrinal Mukherjee of Posta police station, guilty. He then issued an order to suspend the two.

According to Lalbazar police, the duo had led the team that picked up Lakhotia from Phoolbagan. “We had specific information about Lakhotia’s involvement in a betting racket. So, there was nothing wrong in bringing him to the police station for interrogation,” said an officer of Posta thana.

Several other policemen and sleuths had also interrogated Lakhotia on several occasions earlier, said sources.

The police are now awaiting the suggestions of the rights panels on this issue. “We will take the next move only after a specific directive from the state government,” said an official.

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