Custodial deaths down but Maharashta still tops list
According to a report from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) the
number of custodial deaths in Maharashtra dropped from 34 in 2013 to 21 in
2014, but despite guidelines from courts, the state’s record on custodial
deaths remains the worst of any state. The 21 deaths put it at the top of
the 2014 list, ahead of second-place Andhra Pradesh, with 18. Of the 21 who
died in Maharashtra, only four had been remanded in police custody by a
court, while the remaining 17 had not.
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Police torture was responsible for two of the 21 deaths, mob attacks and
riots for four and suicides for another four. Seven died after being
hospitalized, while one died while trying to escape. Only three of the 21
deaths in police custody were put down to natural causes.
A source said that policemen on duty often neglect simple procedures such
as medical tests of suspects. For instance, a suspect who died in the
lock-up of Vanrai police station in October 2013 had been beaten up by mob
before he was arrested. But as the police did not get his medical tests
done, three cops were arrested for his death. A sources in the state police
said many deaths were the result of self-inflicted injuries.
One of the deaths by police torture was that of 25-year-old Agnelo
Valdaris, a resident of BPT Colony, who arrested by the Government Railway
Police at Wadala on charges of robbing a woman passenger on a train.
Valdaris died from alleged police torture while in custody. The CBI
registered a case of murder against 10 policemen and the Bombay high court
instructed the police to install CCTV cameras in all police stations to
curb the practice of torturing suspects.
Former assistant commissioner of police Jaywant Hargude said many custodial
deaths are down to illness or because the suspect was beaten up by a mob
before his arrest. He said the installation of CCTV cameras in police
stations would reduce the number of custodial deaths, but admitted that the
police’s laxity on standard procedures such as medical tests were
responsible for some deaths.