Two deaths under police custody

February 28, 2005 | Comments Off on Two deaths under police custody

There have been two recent deaths of Dalits under police custody: Satnam from Lohian village in Jalandhar, and Rajinderjit Singh from Phool Khurd village in Ropar.

The Lohian police picked up Satnam on January 5 for a theft case and released him later that day. The morning of February 6, the police took him to the station again, but this time tortured him after he refused to accept his involvement in a theft case. The police released Satnam in the evening, and his family rushed him to the hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

When news of the death spread to Lohian village, hundreds of angry residents attacked the police station in protest of the killing. The police, including the SHO, fled the station and two police officers were beaten by the mob. Dalit organizations have protested the killing, and their pressure won Rs 5 lakh in compensation to Satnam’s family.

Meanwhile, the former Punjab Chief Minister and President of SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has condemned the incident and demanded judicial probe into the incident.

Talking to The Tribune over phone, Mr Badal alleged that there was jungle raj in the state as the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had given free hand to the police.

ASI Vijay Joshi, Head Constable Surjit Malik and Home Guards jawan Balkar Singh are the three police officers responsible for the killing of Satnam. A case has been registered against the three policemen, but the Jalandhar police have so far failed to arrest them.

Residents of Lohian township have also alleged that the police not only intended to “let the accused remain out of its reach” in view of an “understanding” on the basis of its persumption that the family might not like to go further into the matter after getting the compensation and a yet-to be fulfilled promise of a government job to next of kin of the victim. The prevalent situation is also contrary to repeated assertions of Captain Amarinder Singh that the accused, “whatsoever powerful they might be” would be arrested by the Punjab police within a short time.

But, about 18 days have elapsed after the unfortunate incident and yet the accused police officials were “out of reach” of the Jalandhar police.

In another case of custodial death, Rajinderjit Singh died on February 10 of injuries from torture by the Ludhiana police. 

Rajinderjit, along with two other persons Amarjit Singh and Kala, who went missing on February 2, were shown as arrested by the Sunder Nagar police post personnel in Ludhiana on February 5, under the Arms Act. While Amarjit and Kala were later released, the deceased was tortured in the police custody by giving him electric shocks when he resisted police attempts to implicate him in another false case, Mr Davinder Singh Chauhan, his cousin, alleged.

By February 6, his condition had deteriorated, and he was admitted to the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana under judicial custody. He was then moved to the Rajindra Hospital in Patiala in serious condition on February 10, where he died of kidney failure.

In the meantime, the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), constituted a team comprising Mr Ravinder Singh Bassi, Mr Arvind Thakur and Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan, to follow-up the case. A CD prepared by the team showed that electric shocks were given to the deceased as his body had torture marks and had turned blue, Mr Thakur alleged.

Mr Thakur alleged that even when he was being treated at the PGI, he was chained to the emergency bed which was in violation of the Supreme Court judgements.

On February 13, the body of Rajinderjit Singh was cremated. His brother-in-law has stated that the family would file a case with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The LHRI has decided to meet Director Vigilance Punjab to initiate action against the police officers responsible for the torture, and wil ask the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court to look in to the matter.


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