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Surge in alleged custodial deaths another blot on Bengal’s image

Surge in alleged custodial deaths another blot on Bengal's image

Kolkata, Nov 19 (SocialNews.XYZ) The rising number of custodial deaths in the state in the last few years is a new blot on West Bengal. The latest incident is a custodial death at the Amherst Street police station in central Kolkata where a youth was summoned for questioning over an allegation against him of purchasing a stolen mobile phone set.

Soon news about his death at the police station surfaced. After his family members reached the police station they saw his body lying on the floor and alleged that he died due to police torture.


The policemen there, however, denied the charge and claimed that the accused fell sick during interrogation, fell on the floor and died instantly. The post-mortem report corroborated the police statement and citied the reason of death as internal hemorrhage.

A political slugfest has now started over the incident. Bharatiya Janata Party councillor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Sajal Ghosh has described the post mortem report as fabricated to save the guilty police personnel. He has demanded a second post mortem at any central hospital like AIIMS in Nadia district of West Bengal or the military-run Command Hospital in South Kolkata.

However, Kolkata mayor and municipal and urban development minister Firhad Hakim has accused the BJP of doing politics over bodies. “This is a new trend in politics introduced by the BJP in West Bengal, where they try to give a twist to any death. But they will not be successful in achieving any long term political benefit out of this ploy,” he said.

In the midst of this slugfest, human rights activists are saying that the incidents of reported custodial deaths in the state have increased manifold in the last few years and especially during the last one year.

According to Ranjit Sur of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, the organization had progressed at different levels with more than 12 cases of reported custodial deaths during the last one year, many of which have been reported from the state capital Kolkata.

“The question is not always physical torture in police custody. Often the person summoned to the police station is questioned and threatened by the cops in such a brutal manner that it becomes an immense psychological torture for the victim. In case the victim has weak nerves or a poor heart condition he can succumb to such psychological pressure. In my opinion the guilty cops have no fear of repercussions and punishment in case of custodial deaths because somewhere they feel that they will get the backing and support of the highest political administration in the state in such cases,” Sur said.

Secondly, often the legal procedures in cases of custodial deaths drag on for such a long time that often the guilty cops retire from service or even die natural deaths with the trial process continuing. “So is the case with many victims and witnesses,” Sur added.

Legal experts feel that the guilty cops often take advantage of the loopholes in the existing laws about summoning an accused. According to Calcutta High Court counsel Kaushik Gupta, in many cases of custodial death it has been noticed that the victim was summoned to the police station without proper notice, which is a violation of the law.

“Secondly, often many police stations do not follow the Supreme Court guidelines to install CCTV cameras and ensure that they are in working order. The guilty cops in cases of custodial deaths take advantage of such missing or non-functioning CCTVs,” Gupta said.

As to the prolonged legal proceedings in the matter, Gupta said the inadequate number of judges at all levels is mainly responsible for this.

Source: IANS

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Surge in alleged custodial deaths another blot on Bengal's image

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