Nearly 36 hours after a young man from Basi Sherpur viillage, in Mandi Dhanaura area of Amroha district in western UP, died, allegedly in police custody, by Thursday afternoon the police were yet to provide the official date and time of his arrest.
The family of the deceased, Balkrishna, has alleged that he was beaten to death by the police for a crime he did not commit. He died during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Amroha SSP Vipin Gada has stated that there was “prima facie negligence” on part of police officials handling Balkrishna’s arrest. Eight police officials, including station-in-charge Arvind Mohan, were suspended pending investigation, he said.
On Thursday, Balkrishna’s wife, Kunta said, “He left home at 10 am on Sunday on duty — for the last one year, his work as driver was our steady source of income. He worked at a school and also drove guests to weddings in the area. That day, he said he had to go to Moradabad on duty.”
Nearly 12 hours later, Kunta said, local residents informed her that Balkrishna had been arrested for car theft. “The truth is, he has lost his way in the fog,” she maintained.
Balkrishna drove a white Maruti Eeco, which his family said he bought in Delhi last year. This is the same vehicle for whose alleged theft Balkrishna was arrested by Dhanaura police.
Guddi, Balkrishna’s sister-in-law, alleged that at the police station the station in-charge and other constables asked the family to pay Rs 2 lakh to drop him back home. “We could arrange Rs 1.2 lakh. They asked us to come the following day and refused to let him go,” she claimed.
The family claimed they gave Rs 80,000 the following day, but the police refused to free Balkrishna and increased their demand to Rs 5 lakh.
Guddi said, “I went to give him food on Monday – Kunta had to stay back and take care of children. On Tuesday, the police said they would give him food, which they didn’t. I met him for the last time at around 4 on Tuesday.”
On Wednesday morning, the police informed Balkrishna’s relatives that he had taken ill and needed to be moved to Amroha District Hospital.
The family was allegedly denied Balkrishna’s body. Following an argument, the family members and residents of Basi Sherpur attacked the SDM’s car near Dharua police station.
The police filed an FIR against unknown members for alleged damage to government vehicles. An FIR was filed under Section 302 (murder) against four policeman in the case of Balkrishna’s death.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Bulandshahr) Brijesh Singh, who is heading the inquiry into the custodial death, said, “We are investigating several aspects, including the time of arrest and allegations of demand for money. We are yet to confirm the sequence of events leading to his arrest.”
Balkrishna’s cremation was held on Thursday evening. “When we saw the body, we could see there was damage to his neck…(it appeared) like he was hanged,” Guddi said.
Additional SP Brijesh Singh said, “The postmortem report will be examined by the police later on Friday. We will constitute that as major evidence during inquiry.”
Balkrishna is survived by his wife and four children, of whom three study in a government school.