Rights

Dalit Man Dies in Custody in Kanpur, 15 Police Personnel Suspended

Dalits say the idea that Kamal Valmiki was able to hang himself in plain sight of policemen, and find a rope to do it inside a police station, is hard to believe.

Protests after a Dalit man died in police custody in Kanpur. Credit: Twitter/ANI

Protests after a Dalit man died in police custody in Kanpur. Credit: Twitter/ANI

A 26-year-old Dalit man was found dead under “mysterious circumstances” in a Kanpur jail on Thursday, following which 15 police personnel have been suspended.

Kamal Valmiki, a resident of Shiv Katra village, was found hanging at the Ahirwan police station on Thursday afternoon after he was picked up for questioning along with another man, Raju Mistri, on Wednesday in connection with a theft case.

Police called Mistri’s family to identify the body, which was later claimed by Kamal’s family. The police also sent the body for a post-mortem under Mistri’s name.

The family members of the deceased filed an FIR against the station in-charge and other police personnel for beating Kamal to death. However, police claimed he had committed suicide.

According to an NDTV report, all 15 policemen from the police outpost have been suspended. Kamal was allegedly taken into custody by a constable named Valmiki, who now faces a murder case.

Quoted in a CNN News18 report, superintendent of police Shalabh Mathur, said, “It is serious matter because a man was found hanging inside the police station. We are investigating the cause and strict action will be taken against those responsible for the incident.”

ANI also quoted Mathur as saying that a case has been registered under sections of murder and the SC/ST atrocities act based on the complaint of family members of the deceased.

“A custody death is absolutely unacceptable. There is no question of not taking action,” Uttar Pradesh police chief Javed Ahmed told NDTV. Ahmed has ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter, CNN News18 reported.

Many have found the idea that a man was able to hang himself in plain sight of policemen, and find a rope to do it inside a police station, extremely hard to believe.

Outraged by the incident, members of Valmiki community blocked the Kanpur-Lucknow highway and threw stones at the police station, also trying to set the police station on fire, Hindustan Times reported. Police used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

Mistri has been reported as missing.

(with PTI inputs)