Hours after he was released on bail by police in a Prohibition case, a man was found dead under mysterious circumstances near his residence in Toda village of Lathi taluka in Amreli district on Thursday.
Batuk Vaghela (42) was arrested by a team of Lathi police station at 12 pm on Wednesday after he was caught with four litres of country-made liquor. He was kept in locker of Lathi police station until one Dadubhai of Lathi furnished bail bond at 10:45 pm on Wednesday and secured his release.
However, the control room of Amreli district police received a call at 8:12 am on Thursday informing body of a man lying in Toda village, some five kilometre away from the police station. Police identified the body to be that of Vaghela.
“After finding the body, we requested district magistrate to get an inquest done by a high-ranking officer. Therefore, sub-divisional magistrate of Lathi did the inquest before we shifted the body to Amreli civil hospital for post-mortem,” district superintendent of police of Amreli, Makrand Chauhan told The Indian Express.
However, family members of Vaghela alleged that police had beaten him to death. “Two constables came to our village in a car at around 3 am on Thursday and dumped his body here before driving back,” Yashvant Vaghela, cousin brother of the victim alleged.
But the police refuted the allegation. “The locker register of Lathi police statiom has thumb impression of Vaghela after he was released on bail at 10:45 pm on Wednesday. He had left the premises of Lathi police station after that. We did not know anything about him after that until the call to the control-room on Thursday morning,” the SP said.
As the news of the death of Vaghela spread, hundreds of members of his community gathered at Amreli civil hospital in the aternoon.
“Though our records point otherwise, we are treating the incident as a case of custodial death. Therefore, we have decided to get a panel post-mortem done and videograph it,” SP further said.
But as the facility to conduct a panel post-mortem and videograph it is not available in Amreli civil hospital, police were in the process to shift Vaghela’s body to Sir Takhtasinhji General Hospital in Bhavnagar at around 8 pm on Thursday.
“Prima facie, this does not seem to be a case of custodial death. However, we are treating this as a custodial one. Based on the findings of the panel autopsy, I will write to the district magistrate for further inquiry if the case so warrants and will send a report to the National Human Rights Commission,” Chauhan added.
Police said Vaghela had the habit of consuming alcohol and had been booked under the Prohibition Act in the past also. He was also a drug addict and was suffering from tuberculosis, police sources claimed.