Rights

UP: Man Dies After Police 'Torture', Three Officers Suspended

Pradeep Tomar was beaten, stabbed and given electric shocks repeatedly while his 11-year-old son was watching.

New Delhi: A 35-year-old man was allegedly brutally tortured by police in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilkhua town of Hapur district on Sunday evening, succumbing to injuries sustained in a hospital. According to reports Pradeep Tomar was beaten, stabbed and given electric shocks repeatedly by police, while his 11-year-old son was also in the police station.

Media reports said that three policemen – inspector Yogesh Baliyan, chowki in-charge Ajab Singh and constable Manoj – were suspended after Tomar’s death. Tomar’s family has called the action insufficient and wants murder charges to be filed against the officers who allegedly tortured the 35-year-old security guard.

Family members said that Tomar, who is believed to have been in contact with a murder accused, was lured to the police station under false pretences. According to the Indian Express, Tomar’s younger brother Kuldeep and wife Kavita were first detained by the Pilkhua police while they were out buying rations. Kuldeep was allegedly forced to call and lie to Pradeep to lure him to the outpost. Kuldeep was told to say that his motorcycle’s tyre had punctured and that he required his brother’s help.

Also Read: We Must Recognise That Discrimination Plays a Large Role in Custodial Torture

Pradeep’s son, who accompanied his father to the station, said policemen abused and later assaulted his father. “My father kept begging them not to beat him and asked them what he had done wrong but they kept hitting him. They were drunk. He fell at their feet and asked them to leave him, but they tortured him so much that he defecated and urinated. Even when he was taken to the local hospital, he was not given any treatment. He was just locked in a room,” he told the Indian Express.

The police kicked Tomar, punched him and hit him with planks of wood. According to his son, he was also given electric shocks and pierced with a screwdriver repeatedly. A video, purportedly of Tomar’s body, shows a severely blackened lower back portion and stab wounds. While police have not verified the video, which has been shared by Tomar’s family members.

The 11-year-old also claimed that the police slapped him and put a gun inside his mouth. “Later they gave me a packet of chips and told me not to tell anyone about what I had seen,” he said.

In a set of directives issued by Hapur police on Tuesday, police were ordered to ensure “safety” of those arrested and to protect the “image” of the force. Meerut zone IG Alok Singh told the Indian Express that “any death during custody is a violation of human rights” and that the accountability rests on the entire police force.

He said:

“The unlawful beatings of accused in prisons display inhuman and aggressive nature of police and must be prevented. The policemen involved in such activities must be met with punishment,” said Singh in the order.”

Questioned in connection with a murder case

According to reports, Tomar was questioned in connection with a murder case. Hapur ASP Sarvesh Mishra said that a charred body of a woman, discovered on August 30, was later identified as a relative of Pradeep Tomar. “Preeti [was] a resident of Jarcha in Noida [and] was allegedly murdered by one Arun, who is also a relative Pradeep. He [Pradeep] was not directly linked to the murder but could have been part of the conspiracy,” he said.

Other reports said that police claimed Pradeep Tomar was supposed to pay hitmen who were hired to kill Preeti. Jagdish Tomar, a relative accused the police of trying to defame Pradeep. “They say Pradeep was going to pay the hitmen Rs 1.5 lakh but he didn’t have so much money. He only earned Rs 7,000 per month,” he told the Indian Express.

Family members protest

Tomar’s relatives protested at the Meerut Commissioner’s office on Monday but no authorities came to meet them. Family members also criticised the UP government’s “apathy” in the case, saying nobody had come to help them.

Tomar’s wife told the media that the police personnel who allegedly tortured her husband should be charged with murder. “He was the sole earning member of the family. What will happen to us now? I should be given employment, and my sons too, when they grow up,” she said.

Also Read: SC Refuses to Direct Parliament To Enact Stand-Alone Law Against Custodial Torture

A Times of India report says that the family is being pressured to “settle” the issue and not file an FIR against the police officers. A “powerful local leader” is working behind the scene to strike a compromise, a source told the newspaper.

The report also says that Kuldeep Tomar, Pradeep’s brother, claims that the police are not registering an FIR in the case. “Nobody is ready to talk to us. Police is claiming that they brought my brother for routine questioning. And he was admitted to hospital after his condition deteriorated,” Kuldeep told TOI.