Yavatmal custodial deaths: Supreme Court orders FIR and CBI probe

Updated: 29 November, 2017 17:02 IST | Sailee Dhayalkar | Mumbai

The youths allegedly died after being called in for questioning at SP's office for local cases of theft and dacoity

The Supreme Court ordered an FIR on October 26 into the May 2003 alleged custodial death of two men in the office of Amitesh Kumar, then the superintendent of police (SP) in Yavatmal. Kumar is currently serving as the joint commissioner of police, traffic division. The SC observed, "...an FIR needs to be registered and investigation carried out…the matter may now be dealt with by the Central Bureau of Investigation."

(From left) Ajay Mohite, one of the deceased; Shailesh Thakur, the petitioner and Amitesh Kumar, former SP
(From left) Ajay Mohite, one of the deceased; Shailesh Thakur, the petitioner and Amitesh Kumar, former SP

The petition the SC was hearing was filed by Yavatmal-based social worker Shailesh Thakur. He was represented in SC by Sudhanshu S Choudhari. After the SC order, Kumar filed an application for permission to file an impleadment on November 8, as he is an aggrieved party in the case. The SC dismissed the application on November 13.

When mid-day contacted Kumar to know why the order was dismissed, he said, "The SC said since the order has not been passed against a specific person, the impleadment application is not necessary. Let the CBI investigate and they will reach a conclusion."

Pan and poison
According to the January 2009 report of Maharashtra State Human Right Commission (MSHRC), the incident dates back to May 1, 2003, when cops picked Suresh Sonukusare and Ajay Mohite for questioning about several thefts in Yavatmal. Family members of the men alleged that after the two were taken to Kumar's office, they were tortured and given poison by the police, which resulted in their death.

The commission also went through the reply filed by Kumar in October 2003, where he denied all the allegations and said Sonuskare and Mohite went out after lunch on the pretext of having pan, bought pesticide and consumed it before returning. The reply further says that the other accused present there smelled the pesticide and informed the cops. Cops took Sonukusare and Mohite to the hospital, where they were declared dead. In Mohite's pocket, cops found a receipt of for the purchase of the pesticide Endosulfan.

A coram of justice Kshitij R Vyas (former Chief Justice) and member Subhash Lalla (IAS) was freshly constituted to hear and decide the matter. It went through CID Amravati's investigation reports, which concluded the deaths as suicide. The complainant's lawyer Vimal Vajpai argued the entire probe was carried out to save the senior officer. The commission's report said calling the men to the SP's office would go on to suggest that the SP, "had some extra pressure and therefore he was keen to get the information at any cost."

Post mortem
Meanwhile, the post mortem reports of the deceased revealed as many as seven abrasion injuries, possibly inflicted with hard and blunt weapons. The chemical analysis report indicated the detection of Nuvacan in the viscera, which is different from the Endosulfan claimed by cops. The Commission's reports states, "The entire theory suggested by police… appears to be unrealistic and unbelievable. The injuries on their persons are suggestive of facts that they were beaten... Even the theory that they went out to have pan does not appear to be probable."

The commission also felt there was no need to take any extreme step since the men weren't the accused. According to the Commission, "Prima facie... this is not a case of suicide but one of murder where deceased were killed by administering poison." After this, there was another investigation report by Rajendra Singh, commissioner of police, Aurangabad City, dated August 6, 2014, which also concluded the deaths as a suicide.

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First Published: 20 November, 2017 10:05 IST

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