Cop held over custody death in Bolpur
An inspector of police formerly posted in Bolpur, Prabir Kumar Dutta, was on Tuesday produced at a Bolpur court through videoconferencing for allegedly beating to death a man in police custody in September 2016.
Additional chief judicial magistrate of Bolpur Ayan Kumar Bandopadhyay remanded him to seven days in judicial custody and ordered his production at the court of the additional district and sessions judge on November 18.
Dutta, who so far was posted as an inspector in East Burdwan, was brought in an ambulance outside Bolpur court, but stayed in it as he was ill. The court also ordered his treatment in custody, said his advocate Swagata Biswas.
Dutta was produced before court on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2016 death of truck driver Raju Thandar, 26, causing disappearance of evidence of offence, among others. His name was in the supplementary chargesheet filed by the CID on October 5. “He surrendered at Narendrapur police station on November 8 as there was an arrest warrant against him,” said Phiroj Kumar Pal, assistant public prosecutor, who opposed Dutta’s bail plea.
Pal had reminded the court that it was “worst crime” as a man died in police custody.
Sources said the police had allegedly arrested truck driver Raju on September 11, 2016, but cops claimed they had rescued him from near the Bolpur sub-divisional hospital with head injuries a few days before. The police said Raju had been taken to the hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Some people accused the police of beating Raju to death in custody. A mob ransacked the police station. Dutta was the inspector-in-charge of Bolpur police station when the incident occurred. The police stuck to their claim and lodged a case of unnatural death.
Soon, activists of the Association of Protection for Democratic Rights (APDR) circulated a purported email sent to then district police chief and other senior officers by Dutta. The email said Raju was arrested. What emerged later was that the case filed following Raju’s arrest had been replaced by the name of one Babar Sheikh of Nanoor in Birbhum. What cops forgot to change were emails exchanged on Raju’s arrest. The case was handed over to the CID. “The police first claimed Raju was not arrested and later we discovered documents related to his arrest. Dutta, then inspector-in-charge of Bolpur, had tried to suppress the event of Raju’s death in custody. We demand his punishment,” said Sailen Mishra, the APDR secretary in Birbhum.
The police said apart from section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), Dutta had also been charged with 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 323 (voluntary causing hurt), 325 (voluntary causing grievous hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 343 (wrongful confinement for three or four days).
Advocates said that all the charges established that Raju had been killed without the intention to murder in police custody and he had been confined illegally for four days.