New Delhi: A man who had approached a Delhi Police vehicle to complain about being overcharged by an autorickshaw driver but later got into an argument with the cops for not acting on his complaint was allegedly illegally detained by police personnel who “wanted to teach him a lesson”. A day later, his body was found floating in a canal near Ghazipur police station in east Delhi.
The matter came to light after Rajeev Kumar, a friend of the deceased, Rajnikant Sharma, informed the Delhi secretary of the All India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU) Shyam Kishore about the incident.
Shyam, who is in-charge of the Kondli assembly unit of the organisation in east Delhi, told The Wire that he was approached by Rajeev on May 21 as he wanted to bring the case to his notice. “Rajeev said he and Rajnikant Sharma had taken an autorickshaw from Kaushambi at about 9 pm on Thursday (May 19). They both reside in Kondli and got off the vehicle near the Ghazipur village bus stand. It was there that both Rajeev and Rajnikant, who were in an inebriated state, got into an argument with the autorickshaw driver over the fare. They also got into a light scuffle,” the AICCTU leader said.
Just then, he added, Rajnikant saw a Delhi Police vehicle in the vicinity and rushed to it for help. “Rajnikant approached the cops and complained about the auto driver’s conduct. But since he was himself in a drunken state, the police personnel did not take his complaint seriously. He kept demanding that they beat up the driver and so they ignored him.”
At this, Shyam said, he was told by Rajeev that Rajnikant opened the rear door of the Delhi Police vehicle and sat in it. “He insisted that he would not get off unless the cops take action against the auto driver. Rajnikant also got into an argument with the cops and this infuriated them. Rajeev was able to identify one of them as Constable Arun.”
Realising that Rajnikant had annoyed the cops, the trade union leader said Rajeev apologised to them asking that he be allowed to take his friend with him. But by now Rajnikant had already done enough harm. The police personnel refused to let him go. “They told Rajeev that he should come to the police station in the morning (Friday) at 7 to take him, as they wanted to teach him a lesson. Reluctantly, Rajeev returned home. He did not inform Rajnikant’s family about the incident and went to sleep,” said Shyam.
The following morning at around 8 am, Rajeev went to the Ghazipur police station with his friend Ramesh and enquired about Rajnikant. “To his surprise, the police told him that no person by that name had been brought to the police station and he should check with the Kalyanpuri police station, also in the vicinity. Kumar subsequently went to Kalyanpuri, Madhu Vihar and Mandawali police stations, but everywhere he was told that no one by the name of Rajnikant Sharma had been brought there.”
Then, in the afternoon, Rajeev and Ramesh again went to the Ghazipur police station to enquire about Rajnikant, as the cops there had told him that one Constable Arun was indeed posted there and that he would report for duty at around 5 in the evening. In the evening, the police personnel told the duo that Rajnikant had indeed been brought to the police station but had fled. “The cops told them that since no case could be made out against Rajnikant he went away on his own. Rajeev found this hard to believe as only the previous evening the cops had refused to let him go when he had pleaded with them.”
It was while Rajeev and Ramesh were returning from the police station at around 7 on Friday evening that they saw a crowd gathered near the Hindon canal in the vicinity. On reaching the spot they learnt that a body had been found floating in it. The deceased was their friend Rajnikant.
When contacted by The Wire, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (east Delhi) Rishi Pal said he would try and get the details of the case. He was later sent a question in writing asking if Rajnikant’s death was being investigated as a custodial killing. He was yet to respond at the time publication.