Six policemen posted at Fatehgunj police station in Vadodara have been charged of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the alleged killing of a migrant worker from Telangana who went missing from custody, around seven months ago.
The FIR lodged by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) E Division SG Patil at the Fatehgunj police station named police inspector DB Gohil, sub-inspector DM Rabari and LRD jawans Pankaj Mavjibhai, Yogendra Jilansinh, Rajiv Savjibhai and Hitesh Shambubhai under IPC sections 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 203 (Giving false information respecting an offence committed), 204 (Destruction of 1[document or electronic record] to prevent its production as evidence) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
“We have not found his body yet, but there is circumstantial evidence and missing documents, which suggest that the victim was killed and his body was disposed of,” Patil told The Indian Express.
According to the FIR, Babu Sheikh Nisar, 65, from Kamar-eddy district in Telangana, who was suspected to have committed a theft, was picked up by Fatehgunj police from Fulwadi area in Vadodara on December 10, 2019, and brought to the computer room of the police station where he was allegedly tied to a chair and tortured.
“A pen was pressed between his fingers until he started bleeding. The victim cried for mercy and said that he was innocent, until his voice finally waned,” the FIR said. No arrests have been made yet.
According to his family members, Nisar who sold bedsheets and clothes on a bicycle, came to Vadodara from Ahmedabad with his son-in-law Ibrahim, the same day at 10.30 am. The duo left for their respective jobs and were scheduled to meet again at 4.30 pm at a designated spot. When Ibrahim did not find his father-in-law, he informed his son in Telangana and left for Ahmedabad.
Unable to contact Nisar, his wife and son came to Vadodara to look for him from their village in Kamareddy district.
“We spent 30 days looking for him at police stations, jails and hospitals but could not find him. There was an entry at the Fatehgunj police station on the same but we were told that he was allowed to leave as the police had no evidence against him. We were new to this place and did not know what to do. We lodged a missing persons complaint at the Sayajigunj police station,” said Salim, Nisar’s son.
“He moved to Gujarat 18 months ago and sold clothes on his bicycle. He did not have a phone but stayed in touch with us through his neighbours. He was diabetic, old and fragile. The Vadodara police has been very irresponsible… they have killed my father. Didn’t their hands hurt when they hit my father? Why didn’t they take him to the hospital? …we don’t even know how they killed him,” Salim added.
An investigation by Sayajigunj police following the missing persons complaint on January 31 soon hit a dead end.
“Police teams looked for him in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Rajasthan where there have been cases of house break-in against him. But he could not be found,” said ACP Patil who is also the complainant in the case.
Meanwhile, his son submitted a complaint to the Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city, alleging foul play in the disappearance of his father. Following this, a confidential inquiry was initiated under Assistant Commissioner of Police
A Division, which also did not lead to any conclusions.
On June 20, the family filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the High Court, following which both the investigations were merged and handed over to Patil for further inquiry on June 25.
A foul play was suspected as a B roll entry was made by the Fatehgunj police station that is considered to be redundant practice with technological advancements. A ‘B roll’ inquiry form is filled when a person is suspected of a crime and his details are registered without bringing him to the police station. The details are then dispatched to the police station of his/her native town for inquiry into any criminal history.
“Now such entries are done on the computer but in this case they had a diary B roll entry, which was suspicious. During the investigation, we also found that a complainant who had submitted an application of theft was also called. He had identified the accused and given a statement but the FIR was never registered, which further raised the suspicion. The application of theft submitted by the complainant was also destroyed along with his statements,” Patil said.
On December 10, the station diary mentions that at 7.25 pm, Nisar left the police station as no evidence was found against him. However, police inquiry revealed that there were no witnesses who saw Nisar leaving the police station that day, Patil said. The CCTV cameras on the particular day were also non-functional.
“Whether the CCTV cameras were made non-functional on purpose is a matter of investigation but for certain hours on that day, CCTV footage is not available,” Patil said.
Investigating Officer BA Chaudhary said, “On priority, we will proceed with the arrests of all the accused and find out where the body was disposed of. The individual roles of all the accused who were present in the police station is also under investigation.”
A few days after the inquiry was initiated, the accused policemen were transferred to different police stations to avoid any hindrance in the investigations. PI Gohil was shifted to the traffic branch and then to Ahmedabad police. PSI Rabari was transferred to Ahmedabad police. Two of the LRD jawans were transferred to Amreli police and the other two to various police stations in Vadodara.
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