Mateen Hafeez,TNN | Jul 1, 2014, 11.10 PM IST
A total of 35 people died in police lockups in Maharashtra in 2013; just one of them was remanded in police custody by court. Second in the shameful chart were Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh with 15 custodial deaths each. And third was Gujarat with 13 deaths. State director general of police Sanjeev Dayal refused to comment on the 2013 statistics, saying, “I have not seen the NCRB records.”
Past NCRB reports show that Maharashtra had the most custodial deaths of all Indian states in 10 of the 13 years since 2001. In 2010, the figure was 23. The tally rose to 35 in 2011 and dropped to 24 the year after.
The issue of custodial deaths has, in the recent past, cast a dark cloud on the law enforcers in Mumbai. Agnello Valdaris, a 25-year-old resident of Reay Road, was picked up by the Wadala railway police on April 15, 2014, for an alleged theft and found dead three days later. Akash Kharade, a 23-year-old resident of Kandivli, was found dead in the Samata Nagar police’s lockup on April 22.
The latest NCRB report says that autopsies were conducted on all 35 people who died in police custody in 2013. Magisterial inquiries were set up in five instances and cases registered in two. No policemen were, however, charge-sheeted or convicted.
The figure of 35, the NCRB report explains, is just for the deaths in police lockups. Four more died in “police custody at the time of production or proceedings in court” or during a “journey connected with investigations” in 2013.