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Jharkhand: Youth who died in police custody was a minor, says family

The matter was reported in Rahe police station area under Bundu sub-division of Ranchi district.

Written by Prashant Pandey | Ranchi |
July 9, 2016 7:59:51 pm
Rupesh swansi 759 File photo of Rupesh Swansi (Express photo)

The youngster, who died in police custody allegedly due to torture on Friday, was a minor and the one who supported his family along with his brother, his family said Saturday.

The matter was reported in Rahe police station area under Bundu sub-division of Ranchi district. Officers-in-charge of two police stations – Rahe and Dasham – were suspended in this connection on Friday.

Incidentally, Dasham police station was inaugurated early this week and, recently, the Director General of Police D K Pandey had instructed officers to ensure that all norms related to questioning of minors were followed.

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On Saturday, Pandey handed over the probe to the Criminal Investigation Department, while Deputy Inspector General (Ranchi) will conduct an administrative inquiry into the matter. The police claimed that they were following the NHRC guidelines in the matter.

“My son, Rupesh, had passed Class 10 this summer. He was born in 1999. He could not score much and also we did not have money. Therefore, he wanted to work to make some money and then resume his studies. After all, he was also supporting his sisters,” said his father, Bhushan Swansi (56), a Dalit living in Adarsh Nagar colony in Bundu area.

Police claimed that Rupesh had two other aliases Mukesh and Chhotu.

swansi family Family members of Rupesh Swansi protesting with his coffin (Express Photo)

Bhushan, his wife and other area residents had blocked the National Highway No. 33 (Ranchi-Jamshedpur), placing his son’s coffin (the community buries their dead, though not in the coffin) in the middle of the road. “Mere suspension of cops is not enough. They should be booked for murder and dismissed from service. This is our demand,” he said.

Father of four, including two daughters, Bhushan said Rupesh was his youngest child but had been supporting his family all along. “He would work as a newspaper hawker, distributing papers in the DSP office, schools and other nearby places. He had been working at a clothes’ shop in the market to earn some money, so that he could fund his studies further,” he said.

READ | Jharkhand: Taken into custody after raid, man dies in hospital; 2 policemen suspended

Bhushan also added that he did not have any permanent source of income since losing his government school teacher job in 2009. He was jailed for allegedly cheating somebody in his village in 2009. When he got out on bail, his job was gone, he said.

Manik Kumar Dey, owner of the clothes store in Chowk Bazar, where Rupesh used to work, said: “He had been working for nearly two months. I had begun trusting him. On July 7, I returned to shop and asked him to go and have lunch in the afternoon. That is when two policemen in civil dress came and asked for him. When I asked why Rupesh was being taken away, they only said that they were policemen. I then informed his father.”

Rupesh’s elder sister, Anita claimed that, when the family got the news, they went to a couple of police stations in the vicinity. They were assured that Rupesh would be released. “Four to five policemen came to our house and brought Rupesh with them. But they took him back again, all the while beating and abusing him and us,” she alleged.

By next morning, the family was informed that Rupesh was unwell and admitted at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS).

“I got in touch with the DSP. He arranged a vehicle to take me to RIMS. But they were reluctant and took me to the house of a senior officer. Only after I insisted that I wanted to see my son that they took me to RIMS. I have seen the body. There were injury marks on the head and all over the body,” said the father.

It turned out that, initially, the policemen had picked up one Kittu Soni (21), grandson of Sevalal Soni, a jeweller in Chowk Bazar, whose shop was not too far from where Rupesh worked.

“I had borrowed a motorcycle from one Bablu to go to the Jagannathpur fair on July 6. I was returning with my friend, Rahul, when I was stopped by the police in Rahe area around 9.30 pm. They asked for papers. I told them that I would get them in the morning. The vehicle was seized. Next day, the policemen came and took me to the police station accusing me of stealing motorcycle. There, they beat me up after tying my hands and legs,” said Kittu, showing the bruises on his body, while lying in his house in Chowk Bazar area.

Kittu added that the policemen only asked him whether he recognised Rupesh. “I had seen him in the market, but I kept telling them that I didn’t know anything about theft or gun-running. They finally left me with the warning that I should not tell anything to anybody,” he said.

His grandfather, Sevalal said: “They have not registered any FIR against my grandson. Even if he has committed some mistake, is this the way to treat somebody?”

On Friday, the police had claimed that Rupesh was picked up at the instance of Kittu. It was also claimed that two weapons and Rs 12,000 in cash was recovered from him. Further, there were reports that Rupesh was working for some operatives of a splinter Maoist outfit Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT).

When asked, Additional Director General (Operations) and Jharkhand police spokesperson S N Pradhan said: “It has been claimed that some recoveries of weapons were made. An inquiry is on. In so far as the age of the victim is concerned, the same would be determined through medical test.”

Asked about alleged links of the victim with JLT, the officer said that JLT was, in fact, another name for People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI). “The JLT is an old name of the same outfit. It has been active in Bundu-Khunti area and, even today, it is known by the same name. Whether the victim was involved or not is part of inquiry,” said Pradhan. The post-mortem report was awaited.

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