Around 150 members of the Patidar community in Gujarat on Saturday tonsured their heads to protest the death of 28-year-old Ketan Patel here allegedly in judicial custody earlier this week. The members got their heads shaved inside the civil hospital campus here and will send their hair to Chief Minister to register their protest against the government’s failure to ensure action against culprits in the alleged police torture due to which Ketan died.
Ketan, a resident of Balol village near Mehsana was in judicial custody at Mehsana Sub-Jail since June 4 in a theft case. He died at the civil hospital on the night of June 5 within hours of admission under mysterious circumstances. Police had said that Ketan was arrested on June 3 after a shop owner in Balol village lodged a complaint stating that he stole around Rs 5,000 from his shop.
Though police denied it was a case of custodial death, local Patel leaders and Ketan’s family members alleged that he died due to police torture when he was in their custody before being sent to jail by the court on June 4.
“Nearly 150 Patidar community members got their heads tonsured near the body of Ketan which was kept at postmortem room of the hospital. We did so to pray for the peace of the soul of Ketan,” said a core committee member of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti from Mehsana, Narendra Patel.
“We will send the hair to CM Rupani to send across a message that if Patidar community can elevate BJP to power, it can also pull it down,” he said.
Despite an assurance of fair probe given by the Gujarat government, Ketan Patel’s family, who have alleged custodial torture by police, have so far refused to take his body. A senior Patidar leader Lalji Patel, who shaved off his hair, said, “Our demand for an FIR to be lodged under section 302 of IPC for murder is not yet fulfilled, which is why more than 150 persons got their head tonsured.”
According to police, Ketan was arrested after a shop owner in Balol village lodged a complaint stating that he stole around Rs 5,000 from his shop. Though police denied it was a case of custodial death, local Patel leaders and Ketan’s family members have alleged that he died due to police torture when he was in their custody before being sent to jail by the court.
Yesterday, a panel of doctors conducted a second post-mortem on his body after the chief judicial magistrate, who was probing the case, directed the authorities to conduct the post mortem as Ketan’s kin were not satisfied with the first post mortem conducted on June 7.
Ketan’s father Mahendra Patel had threatened to sit outside the Mehsana civil hospital until a case was registered against the policemen, “who tortured and killed” his son.