Why suicides by cops are 'accidents'

Hours after Additional Director General of Police (Addl DG) of Maharashtra police Ranjit Kumar Sahay succumbed to his burn injuries and cops declared his death to be accidental, rumours are swirling that the case is not as open and shut as officials would like the public to believe.

Legal experts say that in most cases when cops do commit suicide, the force normally tries to sweep the truth beneath the rug and term the death as accidental so that superiors who might have abused or pressurised their subordinates go scot-free and the next of kin receive all emoluments, including the insurance claims.

Lawyer Dinesh Tiwari said, “The police should conduct an impartial probe while investigating the untimely demise of one of their own, as the truth could be different from the circumstances that are being presented. On several occasions, the truth is suppressed and there are attempts to prove the death to be accidental. They also do so to ensure that family members receive all emoluments.”

Insurance claims
A senior police officer said, on the condition of anonymity, “If a case mentions suicide in the report, then receiving insurance and other claims becomes difficult. Most cases are reported as accidental deaths under Section 174 of the CrPc.”

As most senior and former police officers were paying their respects to Sahay’s grieving family, they were unavailable for comment.

Deaths under pressure
Case 1:
Name: Ranjit Kumar Sahay (52)
Designation: Additional Director General, State Police Housing Department
When: September 15, 2013
Where: At his residence in Malabar Hill
How: Sahay sustained 60 per cent burns (The incident is still shrouded in mystery)
Why: Reason unknown
Status: A senior police officer supervising the case, requesting anonymity, said, “Though the inquiry is under process, prima facie it seems to be a case of accidental death. If we do not come across anything substantial in the coming days, the matter would be closed.”

Case 2
Name: Sanjay Banerjee (47)
Designation: Deputy Commissioner of Police, State Anti-Terrorism Squad
When: March 23, 2013
Where: At Goa Portuguesa restaurant, Ghodbunder Road, Thane
How: Banerjee shot himself with his service revolver
Why: Reason unknown
Status: Deputy Police Commissioner (Zone V) Balasaheb Patil said, “We have come across some discrepancies in statements of witnesses.

Hence, have asked for some clarifications from the forensic experts before we can ascertain, if it was accidental or suicidal. The findings will then be discussed with superior officers.”

Sanjay Banerjee’s wife and family mourn during his last rites in March. Banerjee had shot himself in front of his family at the restaurant. File Pic

Case 3
Name: Vinod Bhatt (54),
Designation: Assistant Commissioner of Police, State Anti-Terrorism Squad
When: August 28, 2006
Where: Between Dadar and Matunga railway station
How: Bhatt was run over by a suburban local train between Dadar and Matunga railway station
Why: Reason unknown
Status: Senior Police Inspector (GRP, Dadar) said, “It was an accidental death.”

Number of police personnel who have ended their lives from 2002 to 2012 

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