Updated: January 27, 2021 9:32:01 pm
A suspended police inspector and a home guard have been arrested around a week after the death of an agricultural labourer, a suspect in a theft case, in the custody of Mundra police in Kutch district even as three head constables wanted in the case are on the run, police said Wednesday.
J A Padhiyar, the then police inspector of Mundra police station, and Viral Joshi, a home guard attached to the Mundra police station, were formally arrested by Kutch (west) police Monday evening. They were produced in a local court which has sent them to police remand for three days, police said.
Padhiyar, who suspended from duty in connection with the case on January 22, was the police inspector in-charge of the Mundra police station when three head constables — Shaktisinh Gohil, Jaydevsinh Jhala and Ashok Kannad — of the detection team of the police station had allegedly picked up Arjan Gadhvi (27), a resident of Samaghogha village in Kutch district’s Mundra taluka on January 12 as a suspect in a case of a house break-in registered at Mundra. Following an alleged brutal beating by the policemen, Gadhvi died in a hospital on January 19 evening.
The accused policemen allegedly had also picked up two other men, Shamla Gadhvi and Harjog Gadhvi, residents of Samaghogha, on January 16 as suspects in the house break-in case and also beat them up.
According to the FIR, the three head constables had abandoned Arjan’s body at the Community Health Centre in Mundra and went underground even as police officers told the victim’s family that he had died of a cardiac arrest. However, family members and leaders of Gadhvi community refused to claim the body. After they submitted a complaint, the three head constables were booked for murder and Shamla and Harjog were admitted to GK General Hospital for treatment for the alleged injuries caused by the police beating.
Community leaders had accepted Arjan’s body on January 22 after Saurabh Singh, Superintendent of Police, Kutch (west), assured to probe any role of police inspector Padhiyar in the murder.
JN Panchal, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) of Bhuj division of Kutch (west) police, said Padhiyar knew that his detection team had picked up the three men. “The detection team directly reports to the police inspector of a police station and, therefore, he is responsible for the acts of omissions and commissions by that team. In this case, Padhiyar was not only aware that the detection team had picked up the victims but had himself interrogated them. All this while, the victims were never shown as detained or arrested in police record and thus the accused kept the victims confined illegally,” Panchal told The Indian Express.
The DySP said home guard Joshi was also attached to the detection team and that eye-witnesses in the case have given statements to the effect that he, too, beat the victims. “There is no entry in the arrest register or in the lockup register of Mundra police station with respect to Arjan, Shamla and Harjog. The three were confined in the interrogation room of the detection team. This room is separate from the police station and witnesses have attested to the presence of the victims in that room,” Panchal, who is investigating the custodial death case, said.
Asked if the police inspector was cooperating with the investigation, the DySP said: “The Constitution has given him the right to not to say anything and, currently, he is exercising his right as, being a police officer, he knows the laws and rules. However, there is evidence against him and we are collecting more of it,” Panchal said.
After the case of custodial death was registered at Mundra police station, Padhiyar was transferred to Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) in Bhuj and was suspended from service on January 22. Along with him, the three head constables accused in the custodial death case were also suspended.
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