Daughter of Mumbai man, who hung self in police lock-up wants justice
Malwani police are facing the heat over the custodial death of a detainee of a robbery case. The family of the deceased continues to maintain that the police killed the man and then painted it as a suicide, and have vowed not to conduct the final rites until justice is served.
RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale with the protestors outside Malwani police station. Athawale said he would meet Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and ask for a special inquiry in the case
Hari Birbal Chauhan (49) was found hanging by his shirt in the lock-up on Wednesday morning. Malwani police had taken him in for questioning after Chauhan’s son-in-law, Saifan Raju Kale, was allegedly involved in robbing gold valuables. Police suspected that Chauhan had sold the ornaments and detained him in the wee hours.
mid-day’s April 3 report
An hour or so later, he was found dead and police said he had committed suicide (see box). mid-day had reported the incident yesterday.
‘We want justice’
On the morning Chauhan was detained, news had reached the family members around 6 am that he had died. It was only at 8 am that Chauhan’s daughter, Shaila Kale, was allowed inside and saw her father hanging by his shirt tied to the grill of the window.
Police had sent the body for a post-mortem on Thursday to J J Hospital and doctors later handed over its custody to the family yesterday. The family firmly believe the death is not a suicide as the police have been saying. Shaila Kale, Chauhan’s daughter, said, “We will not conduct my father’s last rites until we get justice.
The police killed my father and portrayed it as a suicide case. This is a murder, not a suicide.” More than 500 people turned up to protest outside its premises yesterday, including, family, relatives, friends and workers from Republican Party of India (RPI).
RPI chief Ramdas Athawale also showed up at the spot yesterday, promising to secure justice for Chauhan’s family. Athawale said he would also meet Mumbai Police Commis-sioner Rakesh Maria to ask for a special inquiry in the case. This is the third custodial death in Malwani police station in less than four years, the most for any police station in Mumbai.
Prakash Patil, its senior police inspector, is also under the scanner not only for this distinction the police station has earned for itself, but also for a recent case in which the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) caught three police officers two sub-inspectors and a constable from the Malwani police for taking a bribe. The Crime Branch is conducting an inquiry into the case.
According to the Crime Branch, a primary post-mortem report found strangulation marks on the neck, pointing towards suicide. The final report will confirm whether it is the case.
Avinash Chauhan, senior police inspector, Crime Branch (Unit XI), said, “We have recorded statements of most police officers (involved in the incident). They told us that Chauhan was taken to the lock-up around 5 am on Wednesday.
Around 8 am, his daughter reached the police station and found him hanging by his shirt in the detection room. She informed other police officers and family members. A primary post-mortem report has found symptoms of suicide. Inquiry is ongoing and we will take strictest action if someone is found guilty.”
Late on Tuesday night, Malwani police arrested Saifan Raju Kale (22), for allegedly robbing gold jewellery from a house in the same area. Kale allegedly stole the ornaments and gave them to his father-in-law, Hari Chauhan, who then allegedly sold them. During interrogation, Kale confessed to his crime.
When Chauhan was questioned on Wednesday morning at 5 am, police claimed he, too, had confessed to having sold the jewellery. An hour later, he was found dead. Saifan Kale is currently in police custody.