A DAY after a 26-year-old man died, allegedly in the custody of Wadala Truck Terminal police station in Mumbai, five policemen from the police station were suspended on Tuesday, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding that action be taken in the matter. A couple, with whom the deceased had a tiff on Sunday night, was also booked by the police.
In a statement, the Mumbai Police said that assistant inspector Salim Khan, sub-inspector Sandeep Kadam and constables Bhabal, Chaure and Chole have been suspended and the Crime Branch is probing the matter. The incident is being treated as a case of custodial death, said a police spokesperson.
The deceased, Sion Koliwada resident Vijay Singh, who worked as a medical representative, died after he was detained at the police station for questioning on Sunday. While his family members and friend have alleged that he was beaten to death in police custody, the police have claimed that he was not assaulted and died while he was
leaving the police station after being released.
Doctors who conducted the postmortem at JJ Hospital, reserved their opinion on the cause of death. No physical or external injuries were found on the body, the report stated. While viscera samples have been preserved for further analysis, forensic experts believe Singh died due to a heart attack, said sources.
Around 10.30 pm on Sunday, Singh, along with his friend Ankit Mishra, were filling petrol at a pump in Wadala East when the couple — Dashrat Devendra and Afreen — allegedly came charging at them, as they believed that the duo had purposely flashed their head light at them, the police said. As the confrontation turned violent and physical, a patrolling van reached the petrol pump and took Singh and Mishra to the police station.
“The police officers started beating Vijay at the spot. They later took us inside a room at the police station and started assaulting us again. Vijay complained of chest pain and even asked them for water, but the policemen refused. Around 2 am, when he fell unconscious, he was rushed to Sion hospital where he was declared dead,” Mishra had claimed.
Sources in the police said that Singh may have been hurt during the fight at the petrol pump. “Vijay was assaulted by both the policemen and the couple. I want the department to take action against the people responsible for his death. After we protested the whole day today, the officers called us inside in the evening to record our statement,” said Singh’s younger brother Shivam. Late Tuesday, the police booked Dashrat Devendra and Afreen on charges including wrongful restraint, assault and criminal intimidation.
Senior Inspector Rajendra Sangle of Wadala Truck Terminal police maintained that Singh was not assaulted at the police station.”There has been a dispute between the two groups for a long time. When they were fighting near a petrol pump, our patrolling staff noticed something unusual. They went to the spot and brought them to the police station. Later, his (Singh’s) parents were informed and they came to the police station. We didn’t even touch Singh. At midnight, when he complained of chest pain, we took his address, made him sign a document and let him go. When he reached the gate of the police station, he collapsed.”
The police said that Singh’s family members took him to Sion hospital in a taxi, where he was declared dead. “We got a call from the hospital. They informed us about Vijay’s death, following which, we sent a team and registered a case of accidental death,” added Sangle.
Singh’s family has demanded that a second postmortem be conducted. On Tuesday, his body was shifted to KEM Hospital. “We have been asked to give a second opinion. We are yet to conduct autopsy,” said Dr Harish Pathak, head of forensics at KEM. Meanwhile, the CM, who also holds Home portfolio, told mediapersons: “I have taken the incident seriously and asked the police to take action.”
Over a hundred residents of Wadala, along with several political leaders, took to the streets on Tuesday to protest in Wadala and outside the police station.