Gujarat accounted for the highest number of police personnel arrested in custodial death cases in the country and the second highest number of custodial deaths in 2019, one rank below Tamil Nadu, as per the latest figures released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, Crimes in India 2019.
Most of the people who died in police custody in Gujarat were not on remand and the police has explained most to of them as either death by suicide, by illness or a road accident, to the Bureau.
As far as overall criminal cases registered against police officers are concerned, Gujarat accounted for the second highest in the country with 210 arrests of officers, second only to Maharashtra, which has 288 police officers arrested in 2019. Out of the 210 police officers arrested in Gujarat, 196 of them were chargesheeted with two acquittals by court, as per the report.
The NCRB report, released by the Union Home Ministry on September 29, says 11 people died in police custody in Tamil Nadu in 2019, while Gujarat saw 10 such deaths. The NCRB has prepared the report compiling the data sent by the states and union territories.
Gujarat, however, saw 14 police officers, the highest in the country, arrested and chargesheeted for these deaths. Out of the 10 custodial deaths, nine were of victims who were not in police remand while they were in police custody. The data further shows that for the 10 deaths, judicial inquiry was ordered in four cases and magisterial inquiry was done in five of them. However, only three criminal cases were registered in the 10 deaths and chargesheet was filed in two of them. A total of 14 police officers were arrested and chargesheeted in these three criminal cases filed in 2019 with zero convictions as of now.
The Gujarat police have also sent reasons behind the 10 custodial deaths with three of them listed as alleged “suicides”, five as “deaths due to illness”, one as “road accident in a journey connected with investigation” and one death due to “injuries sustained due to physical assault by police”. A total of 53 custodial deaths occurred in India in 2019, as per the report.
The report doesn’t take into account the alleged custodial death case of 65-year-old migrant worker Babu Nisar Sheikh from Telangana on December 10, 2019, in which six accused policemen, including an inspector and a sub-inspector, formerly attached with Fatehgunj police station in Vadodara, were arrested. They were booked under Indian Penal Code section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and the case is being probed by the Gujarat Crime Investigation Department.
As per the NCRB 2019 report, a total of 37 Gujarat Police personnel were arrested and chargesheeted in 2019 for a total of 53 persons who escaped from police custody in the previous year. Gujarat ranked eighth when it came to persons escaping police custody with Maharashtra being at top with 102 cases.
For the 53 persons who escaped police custody in Gujarat, the report states that 13 criminal cases were filed against officers of Gujarat Police and 37 of them were arrested with zero convictions. Out of the 53 persons, 43 of them were rearrested and nine are absconding.
Recently the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) arrested woman sub-inspector Shweta Jadeja, who was formerly in charge of Mahila police station (West) in Ahmedabad for allegedly accepting bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a rape accused in order to not book him under a stringent state act.
Similarly, the Crime Branch in 2020 also arrested assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Firoz Nagori for allegedly peddling methamphetamine drugs worth Rs 1 crore from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Inspector LP Bodana of Rander police station and two constables, Ajay Bopala and Kiransinh Parmar, are currently in remand with the Surat district police, for alleged abetment to suicide of co-operative sector leader and farmer Durlabh Patel (74), on September 7.
The NCRB report also stated killings of police officers on duty in 2019 in which as many as 22 officers of Gujarat Police lost their lives in accidents and one was listed as “accidental death with self weapon”. The report also states that nine police officers in Gujarat were injured in 2019 due to riotous mobs. Gujarat has listed zero civilian deaths or injuries due to police action in 2019.
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