A CID probe into the custodial death of an alleged thief in Sangli has revealed that five policemen, after hanging the suspect upside down, beat him till the rope holding him snapped and he fell head first into a bucket of water.
Aniket Kothale (26) was “brutally hit on the bone below the knee for maximum pain”, a senior CID officer said.
The officer told The Indian Express: “Later, he was hung upside down by a hook in the ceiling. He was stripped naked and a black hood was used to cover head. The cops intermittently drowned his head in a bucket of water and beat him with a red plastic pipe. As this was happening, Kothale was begging not to be beaten up.” He said the torture happened on Monday night, the day Kothale and and his friend Amol Bhandare (23) were remanded in police custody for two days. “We have probed various clues and have spoken to some people to find out the sequence of events. After 9 on Monday, the cops involved in the incident started beating up Kothale,” the officer said.
The officer said that while Kothale was being thrashed, “suddenly the rope with which he was hung to the ceiling, snapped and he fell on his head into the water. As he kept screaming, he was taken taken out and was made to lie on a table face down and Bhandare was made to sit on his back. When the police continued to beat him mercilessly, Kothale started saying he was suffocating and kept screaming. Then, he stopped moving. The policemen made Bhandare try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while they made him sit on Kothale’s chest. It did not work.”
The officer said the five policemen “decided to create a fake story that the two suspects had fled from custody. On Tuesday morning, they took the body to a location in Amboli Ghat and burnt it. They later gave a report to the seniors that they had caught Bhandare. But by that time, our inquiry had started to bring out the facts.”
The five Sangli City policemen are sub-inspector Yuvraj Kamate, constables Anil Lad, Arun Tone, Naseeruddin Mulla and Rahul Shigte. A person identified as Zakir Pattewale helped them burn the body in Amboli Ghat, around 250 kilometres from Sangli city. He too has been arrested. Based on the CID inquiry, a case of murder and destruction of evidence was filed on Wednesday against the six. They were produced in court in Sangli on Thursday and remanded in police custody of 12 days.
Kothale and Bhandare had been arrested for an alleged petty theft. According to Sangli City police, they tried to escape from police custody on Monday night. Kothale’s family said he was not a robber and had no criminal past and had been framed in the theft case by sub-inspector Kamate.
State CID chief Sanjay Kumar, when told about the family’s allegation, said: “When the family tells our investigation team about their side of the story, it will definitely be looked into and appropriate action will be taken.”
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