The Government Railway Police has initiated a departmental enquiry against 12 policemen following a complaint of sexual abuse and torture by three robbery suspects, including a minor.
The three were detained by the Wadala railway police on April 15 along with Agnelo Valdaris, 25, who died in custody three days later. While the police said Valdaris was run over by a train while trying to escape, his father alleged the cops murdered him in cold blood. The state CID is investigating that case of custodial death.
The police detained the four friends to get information about a gold chain worth around Rs 60,000 they had allegedly stolen from a senior citizen. They were picked up within minutes of each other from their Reay Road homes on April 15.
In their May 12 complaint about the torture, the three have also levelled detailed accusations of how Valdaris was tortured in front of them. They have demanded the policemen be booked for murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, assault and tampering of evidence, among other charges. The 12 policemen are of the ranks of constables up to senior inspector, including a woman officer.
One of the complaints was identified as Sufiyan Khan, 23.
Valdaris, whose father is a clerk in the port trust, and Sufiyan, son of a mechanic, worked as drivers with transporter companies. The minor is class 8 dropout. The fourth youngster is unemployed.
Mirror is withholding the names of the other two – both alleged victims of sexual abuse. This correspondent spoke in person to the three complainants. Mirror is in possession of a copy of their complaint.
“(Constables Ravi) Mane and Kamble stripped me naked and put me on a table,” one of them has said in his complaint. “Mane assaulted me with a belt and Kamble with a baton. They hit me so hard I fell unconscious. They poured water on me. After I regained my senses, the torture started again. This time I was forced to perform oral sex on Agnelo and the minor. When I refused, I was threatened with more beatings. Left with no option, I did as asked. They later hanged me naked upside down and assaulted me again with belts and batons.”
This complaint said an officer who was identified only as Ganya tried inserting a stick in his anus. He said the police threatened to pour petrol into his anus as the stick was too thick. The complaint also lends credence to the allegations that Valdaris was tortured to death by giving details of how he was also tortured in asimilar manner.
“When Agenelo complained of chest pain and fainted, the police did not provide him any medical attention,” said the complaint. “They then took us to the court two days later. They threatened us not to tell the magistrate anything about the torture. They did not bring Agnelo with us as he was badly injured. In these two days, we were forced to eat the leftovers from the policemen’s meals.”
According to the complaint, the police on April 18 sent the minor to a juvenile home and remanded the other two were remanded in custody. That was when the police told them Valdaris had died while trying to escape.
“That is just not possible,” the complaint said. “We saw how badly Agnelo was beaten. There was no way he could run with his injuries. The police are trying to cover up their torture using the false claim that Agnelo tried to escape.”
The three were let off on bail on April 22. After the GRP commissioner ordered an enquiry based on the complaint, the three were, to their horror, asked to visit the same police station where they were allegedly tortured and collect their summons.
“When I had gone to collect the summons, constable Ravi Mane threatened to frame me in more criminal cases if I pursued the case,” said one of the three youngsters. “He said that the police will hound me forever.”
GRP Commissioner Prabhat Kumar told Mirror, “CID is investigating the custodial death case. We have asked a DCP to probe the departmental lapses. But she can’t reach any conclusion as the CID is seized with the investigation.”
Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, who is representing the trio, said Maharashtra has witnessed the highest number of custodial deaths in recent years as policemen are seldom brought to justice. He advocated the installation of CCTV cameras in all rooms of police stations and stringent punishment for errant policemen as a solution.
“These victims of police brutality are now being threatened to take back their complaint,” said Chaudhry.
“This is nothing but tampering of evidence. They are able to go on unabated because no action has been initiated against them so far. This is the worst case I have come across so far. It is not only about murder but also about deviant sexual abuse and ruthless torture of the accused.”