A day after a video allegedly showing police officers beating up a man in northwest Delhi’s Nand Nagri surfaced, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung on Thursday in connection with the police’s suspected role in the death of the man, identified as 35-year-old Shahnawaz Chaudhary.
“The police comes under the Lt-Governor and hence, the chief minister and the deputy chief minister met him to ask the Lt-Governor about the police’s questionable actions in this case,” said sources in the government.
Meanwhile, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Seemapuri Rakesh Kumar, who is heading the probe into Chaudhary’s death, submitted an interim inquiry report to the District Magistrate Abhishek Singh on Thursday.
The report pointed out that the role of seven police officers and the Station House Officer of Nand Nagri police station was under the scanner and the possibility — that Chaudhary died after the assault by the police officers — could not be ruled out.
“Two aspects of the case were inquired into. Whether the police used force and their negligence led to the victim’s death and the detention of the victim’s wife at the police station till 2.30 am. According to Supreme Court guidelines, no woman can be detained by the police after sunset,” said Singh.
Chaudhry’s wife has allegedly told the SDM that he was “suffocated”.
On the possible cause of death, Kumar said, “As per his wife’s statement, it appears that the death was due to suffocation”. She had told the committee that while trying to restrain Chaudhary, three policemen had pinned him to the floor of the police van and then “sat on him”, said Kumar.
According to Singh, the role of the seven officers was being examined and the action of the station house officer, under whose watch the incident took place, was also under the scanner.
“The interim report is being finalised. We will wait for the post-mortem reports to arrive so that the exact time of death is known. But the possibility of the police’s assault being the cause of Chaudhry’s death cannot be ruled out,” Singh said.
The Delhi government had ordered the inquiry after a video — allegedly showing the policemen beating up and kicking Chaudhary — surfaced.
However, the police have maintained that the deceased had not been beaten up. “When we went to the spot, a few people told us that the police had beaten Chaudhary up with their batons and kicked him as he lay on the ground,” said Kumar.
“The doctors said that by the time Chaudhary reached the hospital, he was dead. I also met the head of the forensics department, but he refused to divulge any details about the post-mortem report. He said that in a few days, he will submit the report to the metropolitan magistrate of the Karkardooma court,” he said.
He will request the court for a copy of the post-mortem report, said Kumar, adding that after analysing it, he will submit his report to the government.
Meanwhile, Chaudhary’s family members have claimed that he died after being beaten up by the police. “In the video, it is clear that he is being beaten up. It seems that after my brother was pushed into the PCR van, he was choked. The chain he was wearing around his neck had come undone; it was handed over to us later. He might have died of suffocation,” said his brother Danish Chaudhary.
The Delhi Police remained tight-lipped on the issue, with Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjay Beniwal saying he did not want to comment on the ongoing inquiry.
“Why should I comment when the inquiry is on? If the metropolitan magistrate says that it is a case of murder or it comes under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) or 174 (non-attendance in obedience to an order from public servant), we will abide by it,” added Beniwal.
He pointed out that the inquiry committee seemed to have drawn conclusions about the cause of death without waiting for the post-mortem report. “How can they talk about the possible cause of death before the post-mortem,” asked Beniwal.
The final report will be submitted to Divisional Commissioner A Anbarasu by Friday evening, said Singh.