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PUCL, October 2006

Eighteen year old youth dies in police custody in Noida

A report by Pushkar Raj, PUCL Delhi

Sonu was eighteen years old, well built, healthy and full of life. He was irrigating his farmland in a village near Khurja barely fifty Km. from Delhi when he was asked to accompany plain cloth police men of Noida a suburb of Delhi. It was six o’clock in the evening, 1st of September 2006. Sonu was dead in lock up of police station by four o’clock in morning of 2nd September. Police claimed he committed suicide inside the lock up making loop of his worn out shirt!

Photo of sonu's body showing a broken arm

Photo of Sonu's body showing injuries to his back

(Photos by PUCL)

Background of the victim
Sonu was the son of Dalbir singh, a wrinkled sad looking old man of about 65 years of age who served para military forces for 37 years retiring some seven years back. He has one daughter and four sons. All except Sonu are married. Sonu was a healthy stoutly built under matric around 5 feet 6 inches tall. He assisted his father in farming. Besides he assisted one Kuwar Pal in latter’s property dealing business in his free time.

Sequence of the incident
According to the family members of Sonu, Kuwar Pal phoned them in the after noon of 1st September inquiring about Sonu whether he was at home. The family members told him that he was at home. Kuwar Pal came to the village at about 6 PM along with five others in a car. They wanted to meet Sonu. Sonu was working in the field and he came to meet them. He was wearing a worn out T-shirt and a short trouser. They went towards the one side of the village talking. After this he was asked to accompany them and in the car they came in all went away. The family members thought he must have gone near by.

But as he did not return by 10 o’clock in the night the family members got worried and phoned his friends about his where about. But no body had any clue where he was he. Finally his father and Sonu’s brother went to Kuwar pal’s house in Khurja, about three Km. away from the village. It was 4 o’clock in the morning. Kuwar Pal told them that Sonu was in police station of sector 20 Noida as the police wanted to make some inquiry on some case. He gave them a cell number 9868615588 that belonged to one constable named Pardeep. When they called on this number the voice from other said that Sonu was with them at the police post of sector 31, Noida. The family members planned to go to Noida in the morning and find out what was the matter.

At 9 o’clock in the morning of 2nd September one constable from Khurja Dehat police station came to the house of Dalbir Singh. He told them that Sonu has committed suicide by hanging in the police lock up. He asked them to accompany him to the local police station where the officer in charge will tell them the details of the case. Shell shocked the family members went to the said police station, from where the police arranged for them to go to Noida. The police brought them to the sector 49 police station instead of sector 20 where Sonu had reportedly committed suicide. The police in fact did not let them go to the said police station.

According to the father and brother of the victim they were asked to go the mortuary. They saw his body in the mortuary. They saw the blue marks on the back of the victim, burn mark on the back of one of his ear, his right arm was broken and swollen, there were blood stains all over upper part just above the back of his neck. There were no marks around his neck at all that might indicate any sign of death by hanging.

The police version
The police maintain that Sonu was arrested in connection with a theft in sector 41 in Nodia about a fortnight prior to the day he was picked up. The police said that they wanted to investigate the matter in which some other boys were also involved. Police said that they traced Sonu by the SIM card that he was using of the cell phone stolen from the house in sector 41. They registered his arrest in their record at 2:30. By 4: 30 according to the police he died making loop of his shirt. Postmortem Report

The postmortem report procured by PUCL shows as many as six major injuries on different part of the body of the victim. But strangely in conclusion it states that the death is due to asphyxiation even though there is no mark on neck of the victim.

The above summary of events points to certain conclusions. The police version that Sonu committed suicide does not hold any water for there are no marks around his neck even the postmortem report does not mention any injury around the neck. Apart from this there were none of the other invariable sign accompanying a suicide death.

A healthy stoutly young man weighing about 65 Kg can not hang with a worn out shirt. He will be able to do it by a window is entirely unimaginable. Moreover a man full of life, irrigating his farms at 6 in the evening brought to the police station at 9, arrested at 2 o’clock would commit suicide by 4 o’clock is inconceivable from commonsensical and psychological point of view.

Sonu was picked up on the basis of suspicion on someone’s behest, brutally tortured and he died of police torture. (See the photographs accompanying the report that clearly bring out the police brutality). His arrest was shown only when he was dead. And after some time he was removed to the hospital where he was declared brought dead.

It is reported that six policemen have been suspended who were involved in the case.

A case of murder should be registered against them.

It is generally seen that departmental inquiries in the cases like this result into acquittal of accused. The police while investigating against their colleagues leaves enough loopholes in the case that help the accused to get away with the crime in the court. A case in point is Jammeel Khan’s son and three other teenager boys’ death in police custody three years back in the same region of Dadri, Noida, . The main accused in the case after being suspended and charged with murder has got acquitted and is back on police duty. In this light it is pertinent that a magisterial inquiry be instituted that gives its finding within a specific time period and a charge sheet accordingly is filed in the court of the law.

Sonu was an able bodied unmarried young man who was a main support to his old father. The other brothers have their respective businesses and families elsewhere. It is highly recommended that the victim’s father be awarded adequate compensation and ideally that should come from the part of the salary of the police men who have been charged with his death. .

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014