PUCL Bulletin, April 2002

Karnataka:
Unprovoked killing of
J. C. Chandrashekar by police SI
Fact-finding report by SICHREM-PUCL

Background
The New Indian Express of 25/02/2002 carried a six-column front-page article on the atrocities of a police SI. Mr. Nagaraj on Mr. Chandrashekar at the premises of Bowring and Lady Curson Hospital in Bangalore City.
On reading the news item it was decided that a fact-finding mission should be constituted to get the details and facts of the case correct. A fact-finding team consisting of Mr. Mathews Philip and Mr. Sony George undertook the fact-finding mission on 26/02/2002.

The Process
The team visited the Bowring and Lady Curson Hospital where the victim is undergoing treatment and met the patient, the hospital authorities, the staff members of the hospital and discussed with the police constables in the station. Based on the discussion the team has put the facts of the case together, given the statements of the various people met and the recommendations are made.

Fact of the Case
On Wednesday 20th February, Mr. Chandrashekar is stated to have been sleeping in the premises of the hospital. The S.I of the Police Station, which is also housed in the premises of the hospital, brutally assaulted the said Chandrashekar, for no obvious reasons. The victim was left with a broken right leg, a sprained left hand and some bruises in the body. The security staff of the hospital took the victim to the causality and got him in the hospital.

The victim
Mr. J.C. Chandrashekar about 50 yrs old C/o. Deepak, No. 28.E. Narainpillai Street, Bangalore. Though this is the contact address, Chandrashekar alias Chadru has been making a living in the Bowring and Lady Curson Hospital by helping and guiding patients who come to the hospital. He is single and is understood to be visiting his brother's house occasionally. Chandrashekar has been living in the premises of the hospital for the last 22 years and eking out a living by doing errand works for the hospital. Chandrashekar has known the S.I for the last two years, ever since he took charge as the S.I at the station in the hospital premises. The victim has stated that he stays in the premises of the hospital on most of the days. The director / superintendent of the hospital Dr. Chandramma, the security staff and some staff members of the hospital have confirmed this. There has not been any complaint of misbehaviour of the victim and all the people mentioned above stated that he was not engaged in any antisocial activities in the hospital. The victim has said that he is an alcoholic and consumes alcohol regularly. However, he said that on the particular day of the incident he had not taken any drinks.

The incident
It has been stated that the victim was lying on a bench in the premises of the hospital (The hospital has a 3 acre premises and most of it is building) just behind the casualty. At around 9 pm the S.I Mr. Nagaraj along with a constable was taking a round around the hospital. Chandrashekar, being acquainted with the S.I said "Namaskara Sir" (Good Evening Sir). The S.I with no provocation started beating up the victim. The constable who accompanied the S.I reportedly requested the S.I not to beat him up. In the assault, Chandrashekar broke his leg, had a sprain on the left hand and had some bruises in the left leg.

About S.I Nagaraj
The S.I Mr. Nagaraj is 56 years old and has taken charge of the station about 1-½ years ago. He usually leaves the office in the evening.

One Mr. M. Arul around 50 years of age making a living from the hospital premises by helping the patients who visit the hospital stated "I am living in the premises of he hospital from 1980 onwards. I had served as a sub divisional writer for 6 years and was dismissed from services in 1976. I was running a cycle hire stand here for 7 years. After that I have been making a living by helping people in the hospital. On 18th February 2002 at around 10:30 pm the S.I Mr. Nagaraj saw me stand before the medical shop, called me near him and beat me up for no reason. He is a very good person when not drunk and becomes a devil after drinking."

The statements from Srinivasa Murthy, a police constable currently in Hospet, but having 15 years of work experience in the Bowring hospital police station further confirmed the drinking habit of the S.I. He stated, "The S.I has a bad reputation because of his alcoholism. He is in the habit of beating up people when drunk. He is an alcoholic and is addicted to drinks and drinks every evening and that is the reason why he will not be there in the station from evening onwards".

The security officer stated, "S.I will never be seen in the station in the nights. His wife was admitted in the hospital for some days around the time the reported incident took place. Since his wife was in the hospital he stayed back in the station during those days and used to create some tension every day night".

Observations
The team would like to make the following observations.
The act of violence committed by S.I. Nagaraj is not an action taken on the basis of any oral or written complaint by the hospital authorities and hence cannot be deemed as "excesses" committed while taking a person into custody. It is observed that the said atrocity was committed by the S.I in a drunken stage and hence there has been severe breach of professional ethics. The fact, that a similar act of violence, with less severe consequences, had happened two days prior to the violence on Chandrashekar point to the fact that it is a behaviour pattern of the said officer. Unruly behaviour, and violence against the poor and innocent, in a drunken state is an offence from an officer who should be the upholder of the law.

Though the victim has been making a living by helping the patients who come to the hospital, and used to sleep in the hospital premises, there has not been any case of misbehaviour reported against him formally or informally from the various people we met. The superintendent of the hospital Dr. Chandramma was extremely helpful in the mission and stated that she has been seeing the victim for the 20 years she has worked in this hospital. She in fact did know his name and seemingly used to tell him to go to his house. She has not preferred any complaint against him to the police.

Recommendations
That financial compensation should be provided to the victim who has been incapacitated due to the facture of the right leg. That stringent action should be taken against the police officer and case should be registered against him. That the state should come out with a specific plan of action to deal with alcoholism and abuse of drugs by police personnel. That the state review the need for the police station in the hospital premises as it was started with a view to look after the security needs and the security needs are currently being met through hired services from security agencies.

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