Witness statements that are part of the chargesheet filed by the CBI in the Agnelo Valdaris custodial death case claim that the torture Valdaris was subjected to caused his death. The CBI last month charged three policemen of the Wadala Government Railway Police under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act but has not invoked murder charge in the case.
The statements reveal that on the intervening night of April 16 and 17, 2014, four, including a minor were picked up by the Wadala GRP to investigate a case of theft of gold ornaments. The men who were kept in a lock-up were then beaten up by the police with belts with one of them tied upside down. The men, including the minor, were also made to perform oral sex on each other, which has led to charges under section 6 and 12 of POCSO Act and section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act against three cops.
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Head constable Suresh Mane and police constables Vikas Suryavanshi and Satyajit Kamble, have been named in the chargesheet, while five others were booked previously under other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
While the police have claimed that Valdaris died after being knocked down by a train when he was escaping from police custody, witness statements claim that Valdaris was not in a state to run after the torture. A witness describes how Valdaris had been screaming for help saying that he was in pain and needed medical attention.
“The officers were holding his hands and getting him out but Richie (Valdaris) just could not walk as he was in severe pain,” a witness states. He claims that Valdaris kept asking for medicines but was told that he should die a painful death. The statement also describes how Valdaris had fallen unconscious after the torture.
Further, the statements of the men picked up by police along with Valdaris, state that while they were produced before a court and remanded to police custody, Valdaris was never produced before a court. “The entire incident of assault and severe beating took place in front of me. It was not possible for Richie to run from custody since he was severely beaten. The police are trying to cover up the entire beating by making a false claim of this train accident,” one witness states.
A statement of Valdaris’s younger brother also reveals that a day before his death, Valdaris had called his brother and informed him about being beaten up throughout the night and that he was feeling giddy. Valdaris had asked his brother to come to the police station with Glucon D and some clothes but when his brother reached he was told that Valdaris had been taken to Sion Hospital after he sustained injuries. It was only after he received a phone call from his father over an hour later that he was informed of his death.
While hearing a writ petition filed by Valdaris’s father, Leonard, the Bombay High Court had in December observed that it was unable to accept that the death was suicidal or accidental, seeking invocation of proper sections.
On Monday, advocate Prabhanjay R Dave appeared before the special POCSO court for the accused with the case being adjourned till next month since the initial case being heard before the magistrate’s court is yet to be clubbed before the special court. The accused are currently out on bail.