The CBI, which investigated the alleged custodial death of 24-year-old Agnello Valdaris in 2014, on completion of its probe has said it was a case of suicide.
Ruling out allegations of murder or sexual assault by the policemen, the agency has now written to the Maharashtra government seeking approval to prosecute eight policemen of the Wadala Government Railway Police (GRP) for detaining Valdaris illegally. The agency has also revealed that they have not found any evidence against two of the 10 policemen, initially named in the FIR.
“The probe by the central agency has found that the policemen had detained Valdaris at least 10 hours before he was shown as officially arrested. When the agency quizzed the police on the issue of illegal detention, they were not able to provide a satisfactory response and, therefore, the CBI has requested the Maharashtra government to approve the proposal to prosecute the policemen,” an official privy to the findings of the agency said.
“After studying the CCTV footage of the police lockup, the agency has concluded that Valdaris was illegally detained, much before they registered a theft case against four youth, including him,” the official added.
The report, which was received by the office of the Director General (DG) of Police, Maharashtra, has been forwarded to the state home department. “Since the government has the power to grant sanction, the report has been forwarded to them,” a senior official from the DG’s office told The Indian Express.
On April 18, 2014, Valdaris , a suspect in a theft case, died while in the custody of the Wadala GRP, after he flung himself before a running train when he was trying to flee. His father, Leonard Valdaris, and the co-accused had alleged that Valdaris was tortured to death in custody and was even subjected to sexual assualt.
In their complaint to the DGP of Maharashtra, the two co-accused, including a minor, had alleged that they were hung upside down, stripped, beaten with sticks and belts and forced to perform oral sex on each other. They had complained that between April 15 and 16, 2014, four boys were picked up by the GRP, Wadala, from their houses, for allegedly stealing gold jewellery. Subsequently even Leonard Valdaris, the victim’s father, lodged a complaint with the police claiming that his son was tortured to death by the policemen on duty.
They then moved the Bombay High Court demanding that the case be probed by the CBI. In his petition, the victim’s father had alleged that since his case was against policemen from the Mumbai police, neither the Crime Branch nor the state CID would conduct a fair probe into the murder of his son. In June, last year the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to investigate the case, following which the agency filed an FIR against ten policemen of the Wadala GRP.