Mumbai: 49-yr-old detained for robbery found hanging by lock-up window

The man’s son-in-law allegedly stole gold jewellery and gave it to him to sell; the Malwani police took in the deceased for questioning after the thief was caught and confessed to the crime

Malwani Police have managed to earn the ignominious record of three custodial deaths in less than four years. A 49-year-old man was found hanging by the lock-up window, after the Malwani police took him in for questioning in connection to a robbery case they were investigating.

Hari Birbal Chauhan (49) was arrested at 4 am yesterday and was found dead at 6 am
Hari Birbal Chauhan (49) was arrested at 4 am yesterday and was found dead at 6 am

The deceased was identified as Hari Birbal Chauhan (49), a resident of Ambujwadi in Malwani, Malad (West). Chauhan used to sell lemon and green chilli tied with strings at traffic signals. According to the police, a robbery case was registered with them last month in which gold valuables had been stolen.

After receiving a tip-off, police picked up one Saifan Raju Kale (22) on Monday as a suspect. During questioning, it was established that Kale was Chauhan’s son-in-law. Police also questioned Chauhan and later released him.

On Wednesday morning, cops got confirmation about Kale’s involvement in the robbery and arrested him. Kale, during interrogation, confessed to the crime and revealed that he had given the ornaments to his father-in-law to sell. Kale also told the police that Chauhan had sold the valuables to a local jeweller.

Arrested, dead
At 4 am on Thursday, police again picked up Chauhan. Prakash Jadhav, senior police inspector, Malwani police station, said, “Early in the morning, we detained Chauhan as he was suspected of being involved in a housebreaking case. We detained him and, during questioning, he accepted that he had sold the ornaments.”

At around 6 am, Chauhan was found hanging by a shirt, which had been tied to the window grill of the lock-up. After a panchnama was conducted, the body was sent for a post-mortem analysis at J J Hospital. Chauhan’s wife, on learning of her husband’s death, suffered severe shock and trauma and had to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a local hospital.

The family of six three sons and three daughters accused the police of killing Chauhan and portraying his death as a suicide. “My father was innocent. He didn’t have a criminal past. The police killed him in the lock-up and have painted his death as a suicide,” alleged Shaila Kale, Chauhan’s daughter.

A huge mob of relatives and friends gathered outside the Malwani police station and protested till evening. Though the situation threatened to spiral out of control, police managed to calm down the protesters. Chauhan is the third person to die in custody of Malwani Police in the less than four years (see box).

Cop speak
Balsingh Rajput, deputy commissioner of police (zone IX), told mid-day, “We have transferred the matter to Crime Branch. They will conduct further inquiry in this case.”

Past deaths
>> On March 5, 2013, an accused, Javed Haider Ali, was found dead under suspicious circumstances in the lock-up
>> On December 21, 2011, a woman named Kunda Shinde allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in a police lock-up near the washroom at Malwani police station

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