No court judgment can prevent custodial deaths, says deceased's father

Updated: Nov 07, 2019, 07:46 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Leonard Valdaris, the father of Agnelo who was allegedly killed by the Wadala GRP in 2014, says authorities need to remove accused officers from police force instead of just suspending them

Leonard Valdaris with a photo of his son, Agnelo. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Leonard Valdaris with a photo of his son, Agnelo. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

Leonard Valdaris, the father of 25-year-old Agnelo, who he claims was tortured and killed in the custody of Wadala Government Railway Police (GRP) in April 2014, said he does not believe any landmark judgment can deter cops from killing people in custody. He said cops must first start registering suo moto cases in custodial deaths instead of making victims' relatives complainants in the case.

"The cops accused in custodial death cases know that investigators can twist the case in their favour. Though the accused cops are often suspended, they are reinstated a few months later after the matter cools down. This pains me a lot. The cops accused in the custodial death case of my son were reinstated barely a few months later. They must be removed from the force," said Valdaris, who works with the Bombay Port Trust.

"The accused cops can always influence the case if they are reinstated. This is the height of liberty an accused in uniform gets because the entire system is corrupt. I am yet to get justice, whereas the accused cops are back at work," he said. "The Bombay High Court has ordered the state government to get CCTV cameras installed to cover the entire premises of police stations, but hardly any police station is following this court order," Valdaris said.

He said the custodial death of his son has been shown as a train accident that supposedly occurred while he was fleeing police custody. "The police findings are very surprising. My son was badly thrashed by cops in custody. He was unable to even stand properly when I met him at Sion hospital where he had told me 'They will kill me daddy, please save me'," he said.

An advocate requesting anonymity said three of the four boys held by the Wadala GRP were sexually abused in custody. "In the charge sheet, it is mentioned that Agnelo died of subarachnoid haemorrhage in his brain. This happens only when a man is hit by a very heavy blunt object. Of course, there were injuries caused by the train as traces of the grease from the wheel were found on his body. But the injuries on his head were not caused by the train. The cops are misleading the case," the advocate said.

Valdaris said there was an inch-deep and a five-inch-round wound near his ribs. "We still don't know how this was caused," he said.

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