The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Custody death heat on cops

Calcutta, Nov. 8: The officer- in-charge of Canning police station was suspended and two other policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector, were arrested today on charges of being responsible for a custody death last month.

South 24-Parganas superintendent of police Deb Kumar Ganguly said in an order that ASI Taradas Ghosh and constable Pradip Patra were found guilty of torturing a cow thief in the police station lock-up. He died on way to hospital. Both were booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and remanded in judicial custody.

The order also hauled up officer-in-charge Dhrubojyoti Chakroborty for negligence. “Being chief of the police station, the OC cannot deny his responsibility behind the incident,” Ganguly said. The district police chief ordered a departmental inquiry against Chakroborty.

Officials of Canning police station arrested 33-year-old Mohammad Hedai, alias Mollah, on October 21 on charges of stealing cows. Instead of producing the resident of Angadberia village before the magistrate the next day, policemen confined him in the lock-up till the morning of October 23.

In custody, Hedai was beaten till he fell unconscious. During investigations, Ganguly found that Ghosh and Patra admitted him to the Canning sub-divisional hospital only on the morning of October 23.

“Soon after admission, Hedai’s condition started deteriorating and the doctors couldn’t handle the case. They referred him to MR Bangur Hospital,” Ganguly said. “But Hedai succumbed to his injuries on way to the hospital.”

As the news spread, Hedai’s relatives and other people from his village demonstrated in front of Canning police station. They alleged that Hedai had died due to torture in custody. Senior police officers recorded their allegation and promised action against the guilty after they received the post-mortem report.

The report from the police morgue in Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, which reached the Alipore district police headquarters a few days ago, said a number of injury marks were found all over the deceased’s body.

“The doctors found both external and internal injury marks on Hedai’s body. The nature of injury marks prove the accused was beaten with blunt and heavy weapons in the lock-up. He fell ill because of excessive torture,” said an official.

After going through the incriminating report, the district superintendent of police initiated the probe. During investigations, it became clear that not only was Hedai detained illegally, Ghosh and Patra tortured him and did not provide medical care till it was too late.

“It is clear that Hedai was beaten up in the lock-up. So the two policemen were arrested under Section 304 that means culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” Ganguly said.

“We will also investigate the OC’s role. It will be verified whether he was aware of the torture or not,” he added.

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