“I have lost all hope,” says Leonard Valdaris, whose son was allegedly tortured and beaten to death in police custody in April 2014. More than two years after the death, several directions on policing and a chargesheet against eight police personnel later, a trial against them is yet to commence.
“The system is not worried about my son, they are only worried about CCTVs,” says Valdaris. The Bombay High Court recently made it mandatory for every police station in Maharashtra to install CCTV cameras on its premises.
After the CBI — which took over the probe late in 2014 from the Maharashtra Criminal Investigation Department — filed its chargesheet in February, the case has remained static at Mumbai’s Esplanade Court.
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The chargesheet filed by the CBI does not inspire hope, adds Valdaris. “The accused are only booked for murder. My son was sexually assaulted by those policemen and he died a brutal death,” he says.
Agnelo was among four boys suspected to be involved in the robbery of a gold chain and a ring from a senior citizen at Reay Road railway station early in April that year. He was detained by the Wadala railway police on April 15. A day later, the police called the complainant to identify the boys. Although the complainant did not identify Agnelo as the thief, he and his friends were still kept in police custody.
While the friends were produced in court on April 16, Angelo was kept in the lockup, where he was allegedly sexually assaulted and physically tortured. When Agnelo did not turn up, Valdaris inquired with the policemen who had escorted the other boys.
“They told me my son won’t be punished,” he says. Two days later, his son was dead. Recalling the conversation he had had with Agnelo before the production in court, Valdaris says, “Agnelo had called me around 10:30 am asking me to get him fresh clothes and some Glucon D. We were supposed to meet in the court at 12:30 pm,” he says.
Later that evening, Valdaris received a phone call and was informed that Agnelo had been admitted to Sion Hospital. The police told him that Agnelo had tried to escape from Wadala railway station while being taken to the court and got hit by a train.
“If only I had known that was the last time I would speak to him. On April 18, I came to know about my son’s death,” says Valdaris. For now, the senior Valdaris waits for the trial to begin.