“His whole body was soaked in blood”: Dalit Family says 45-year-old killed in UP police’s custody

Deceased’s wife Durgavati Devi and son Kundan. Photo courtesy to Manoj Singh/The Wire

45-year-old Bahraichi, a Dalit resident of Shiv Bakhri locality in Uttar Pradesh’s Sant Kabir Nagar district, died in police custody at the Bakhira police station on July 27 after he was brutally tortured by the cops.

“The former village head, Ramakant Yadav, called me up at 10 pm and told me that my brother, Bahraichi, has slipped and got injured while going to the washroom at Bakhira police station. We were asked to reach the hospital where he had been admitted. I went there along with my nephew, Anurag. On the way, the police stopped us at Kareli and informed us that Bahraichi fell from the stairs while going to the washroom. When we reached the hospital, my brother’s corpse was lying there. His whole body was soaked in blood. His mouth was stuffed with cotton. No policemen were around – the hospital administration informed them that they had left the body there,” Vinod, cousin of deceased told The Wire.

Sanjay, father of the deceased said that his father was absolutely healthy and had no ailments. “He died as a result of third-degree torture in police custody. My mother brought him food at the jail on the afternoon of July 26 and 27. The police allowed her to visit him but did not permit them to talk much,” Sanjay told The Wire.

The photographs of Bahraichi’s body at the hospital accessed by media make it clear that those are not injuries from slipping and falling. His head and face bear several evident injury marks while his shirt is soaked in blood.

Bahraichi who working as a farmer to earn a living was picked up by police on July 24 in connection with a case against his son Ashok Kumar, according to the Times of India. On July 21, Ashok Kumar, son of Bahraichi Prasad, had allegedly eloped with a girl from his village and the girl’s family filed a police complaint against him but a case was not registered. However, for the recovery of the girl, police picked up Ashok’s father Bahraichi on July 24 and kept him in the lock-up, TOI reports.

According to The Wire, the complainant was Mahendra, the landlord of Bahraichi’s family. “We came to know of the complaint on the afternoon of July 21 when two cops from the Bakhira police station visited the house while my brother, Kundan, and I were away. At home, our 70-year-old grandfather Gaya Prasad, grandmother Murati Devi, mother Durgavati, and my wife Rani were present. Both the policemen used obscene language and told my family to send my father and me to the police station by evening,” said Sanjay.

The family also accused Mahendra of constantly harassing and threatening them, blaming them for his daughter’s elopement.

“On July 25, when my father had gone to Sahjanwa to buy medicine, 15-16 members of Mahendra’s family, including women, attacked our house and dragged my mother outside, thrashing her badly. My six-year-old niece, Sugan, was also beaten up. Both of them were then abducted by the attackers” Sanjay told The Wire.

He went on to say: “When my father was apprised of the attack, he called up 112 to inform the police. But upon reaching the scene, the police arrested my mother instead. My father reached Bakhira police station from Sahjanwa at around 12 pm and asked the cops to record his statement regarding the attack on his family, but the police arrested him too. In the evening, they let my mother go, but my father was detained even though there was no case against him.”

Bahraichi’s wife Durgavati alleges that her husband was killed by the police and Mahendra at the police station and that Mahendra had paid the police for the job. Durgavati told The Wire that Mahendra has usurped their land and has been harassing them for protesting against it.

Following the custodial death of Bahraichi, Sant Kabir Nagar’s superintendent of police has suspended Manoj Kumar, the station house officer of Bakhira police station. In an FIR registered by the Sant Kabir Nagar police, the SHO, the landlord Mahendra, other Shiv Bakhri residents Ravinder, Gaurav, Vivek, Suraj, and Dheeraj, and one unidentified person have been booked under Sections 365 (kidnapping), 302 (murder) and 201 (evidence tampering) of the Indian Penal Code.

No arrests so far

Sanjay, son of the deceased alleged that he has not been handed the autopsy report. He received a copy of the FIR on July 29. He hadn’t recorded his statement before the police, though the CO did record his statement.

According to The Wire, the police FIR does not match with the statements given by Sanjay and Durgavati. Registered on the basis of Sanjay’s statement, the FIR states that his father was picked up by Mahendra, Ravinder, Gaurav, Vivek and Suraj, who took him to their home and beat him unconscious with lathis and rods. They called up the police and then took him to the police station. There, the opponent group, the SHO of Bakhira police station, and other cops, murdered his father and admitted him to the district hospital, and made it appear like an accident.

Several days have passed since the brutal murder but no arrests have been made so far though the DIG of Basti, and the DM and the SP of Sant Kabir Nagar, have assured the family that there will be a fair investigation in the entire matter and said that strict action will be taken against the culprits.