Dalit man dies in police custody in Tukaramgate
DECCAN CHRONICLE | MOULI MAREEDU
Hyderabad: A 30-year-old Dalit man who had been arrested by the police for questioning in connection with a suspected theft case died in police custody at the Tukaramgate police station from severe head injuries, amid allegations from the victim’s family that they were offered money to cover up the matter.
Chiranjeevi A., an auto driver and a resident of Balapur, was allegedly taken from his home at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening to be questioned about a theft case under the jurisdiction of the Tukaramgate police, but the auto driver died at around 8 p.m. that same day after allegedly being physically assaulted by the police.
Chiranjeevi's 28-year-old wife A. Manjula, who was sobbing while clasping his two-year-old son on her shoulder at the Gandhi mortuary, alleged that five plainclothes officers entered at their Balapur house and picked up her husband on Tuesday, telling her they would leave him in half an hour.
"I wanted to accompany my husband when he was picked up by the police, but they said he'd be sent home in half an hour and instead gave me a phone number to call my husband. Later, I found that the number they gave me was incorrect," Manjula explained. However, at around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the police called Manjula and informed her that Chiranjeevi had died as a result of convulsions and asked her to come to the North Zone DCP office to see the body. When family members and relatives gathered at the North Zone DCP office to question how a healthy man died within hours of being taken into custody by the police, the officers allegedly offered an amount to bury the issue in order to prevent the family from staging a protest or filing a case against the police. Later, when the enraged family members protested outside the North Zone DCP office, the police tried to pacify and informed them that the body was kept at the Gandhi Hospital mortuary.
According to sources, Chiranjeevi was picked up from his home around 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening and was taken to Gandhi Hospital about 8 p.m. the same day, where doctors declared him brought dead. A large police presence was present at the Gandhi Hospital mortuary, where Chiranjeevi's body was kept, and the police prohibited media persons from entering the mortuary premises.
Manjula went on to say that her husband was brutally assaulted by the police while in custody. "After we staged a protest at Gandhi Hospital, the police allowed us to see the body of my husband. We noticed blood dripping from his head, as well as swollen hands and legs," Manjula stated.
"Police took my son forcibly and killed him. Will the cops bring my son back," said Chiranjeevi's mother Laxmamma crying uncontrollably. Chiranjeevi's brother Ganesh, who was waiting at the Gandhi Hospital mortuary, stated that police offered a large amount to the family members to hush up the matter. We were offered a large amount at the North Zone DCP office, but we declined and demanded that the police take us to the mortuary. When we attempted to stage a protest at the DCP office, police drove us to the Gandhi mortuary," Ganesh alleged.
Chiranjeevi is a suspect in a case of mobile phone snatching, North Zone in-charge deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Rahul Hegde said. Chiranjeevi's role was established when certain suspects were questioned by the Tukaramgate police. Around 6pm on Tuesday, the police summoned Chiranjeevi to the police station. According to the North Zone DCP officers, Chiranjeevi suddenly fell to the ground due to fits. He was taken to Gandhi Hospital, where the doctors pronounced him dead. Chiranjeevi was allegedly involved in 20 different cases and was a suspect in a theft case, said Tukaramgate inspector Yellappa.