Shoe-shine man’s death: Kin approach state human rights commission for probe

Police claim illness caused death, family alleges injuries inflicted in custody.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: April 6, 2016 1:11 am

THE FAMILY of Arvind Shimpi (34), who died on March 11 this year while he was in judicial custody in Arthur Road jail, has knocked the doors of the State Human Rights Commission seeking a probe into his death. Shimpi, a shoe-shine man, died two days after being taken in custody by the Azad Maidan police, who have claimed that the death was on account of an “illness”.

On the contrary, Shimpi’s family claims he succumbed to physical injuries inflicted upon him while he was in custody. Three weeks after he passed away, his kin have still not claimed his body, which continues to remain at the JJ hospital mortuary. The family has also filed a case in the Bombay High Court.

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Shimpi, who worked as a shoe-shine man at Churchgate station, was first picked by the Railway Police Force on March 8 from the station where he was sleeping, in connection with a mobile theft case. The police took him to Azad Maidan police station, from where he was transferred to Arthur Road Jail. According to his wife Sunita, the last she saw him was on March 7 when he left the house to sleep outside Churchgate station.

“When I saw him the same night, he was not at all ill. The police did not even inform us when he was picked up. We came to know about his death 12 hours after he died on March 11,” said Rehana Shaikh, Shimpi’s elder sister, who changed her name after marriage.

Shimpi allegedly complained of stomach pain and was transferred from Arthur Road jail to JJ hospital where he died on March 11 morning, three days after his arrest. The report of his body’s postmortem, performed through video camera at JJ mortuary, shows a contusion mark on his head, small injury marks all over his body, and contusion marks on his left hand and left leg.

“He also suffered from internal bleeding in the brain. The injury marks on his body were fresh, maybe a day or two old,” a doctor, part of the team which conducted the postmortem, said. Shimpi’s liver was also found in an “unusually enlarged condition” caused by excessive alcohol intake. In order to confirm whether he also suffered from any other disease such as tuberculosis or typhoid, doctors sent his organ and blood samples for histophathology test.
Senior police inspector with Azad Maidan police Vijay Kadam said, “We are awaiting the histopathology report. The probe into this case is still on. We do not know if he had any prior disease.”

Shimpi’s shanty is located at Churchgate, where his wife and two daughters live. According to Guddu Shimpi, the deceased’s brother, an official from Azad Maidan police station came to him on March 11 midnight and asked him to collect his brother’s body from JJ hospital.

“I was shocked. We did not even know he was arrested for three days. When I saw his body, I knew he had been beaten up badly. There was a huge clot on his skull,” Guddu said. The family refused to accept his body and has been visiting various police stations asking the personnel to carry out a probe. Following the complaint filed by the family recently, the human rights commission has sent a notice to Mumbai police in this case.

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