The death of a junior engineer (JE) of the Chhattisgarh power department, who was one of the suspects in a murder case, has raised allegations of custodial torture by the police in Surajpur district.
Family members of the JE Punam Singh Katlam (44) alleged he died early Tuesday after police personnel thrashed him the previous day. However, local police have denied the allegations, saying the death was due to a cardiac arrest.
“Katlam was posted at power sub-station in Karwa village. He was one of the suspects in the murder of one Harishchand Rajwade (24),” Surajpur superintendent of police Rajesh Kukreja told reporters on Wednesday.
On the morning of November 23, police recovered the body of Mr Rajwade lying in front of the power sub-station located under Latori police outpost, and launched probe, he said.
“The investigation revealed that Mr Rajwade was a friend of Vijay Kumar Vishwakarma, an employee of the power sub-station, and that they used to consume liquor with Mr Katlam frequently. Mr Rajwade was seen entering the sub-station on November 22 late evening,” the SP said.
Vijay Kumar Vishwakarma denied any role in Mr Rajwade’s alleged murder during questioning, he said.
Mr Katlam was interrogated at around 3:45 pm at his work place (on Monday) during which he complained of breathlessness and anxiety, following which police personnel shifted him to a Primary Health Centre, Latori, the SP said.
He said Vijay Kumar Vishwakarma “confessed” during questioning that he, Mr Katlam and two others had beaten Rajwade with a wooden stick following a fight, leading to his death, Mr Kukreja said.
Vijay Kumar Vishwakarma, Sanjay Kumar Vihswakarma and Sanjay Dubey were arrested while Mr Katlam was admitted at the hospital, he said.
Mr Katlam died of a cardiac arrest at 4 am on Tuesday when he had gone to washroom along with a man, the SP said. However, Mr Katlam’s brother Deepak has alleged that police had taken the former into their custody and thrashed him.
“The injury marks on my brother’s body suggest that he was brutally thrashed by police. I got to know from locals that he was taken into police custody,” claimed Mr Deepak, demanding a high-level probe into the incident.
However, the SP refuted the allegations, saying the police had requested for a judicial enquiry into the matter.
Ten policemen who were posted at Latori outpost have been shifted to Surajpur Police Lines, he added.
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