A murder case has been filed in Uttar Pradesh, naming a police station as "accused", after a 52-year-old man died post his interrogation by the police on Tuesday morning in Amethi district, about 120 km from Lucknow.
Businessman Satya Prakash Shukla, who lived in the neighboring district of Pratapgarh, was picked up by Amethi Police at 3 am on Tuesday morning.
The man, who deals with automobile parts, was picked up on suspicion of his involvement in a theft case where Rs. 26 lakh was looted from a bank manager in Amethi a few days ago. The police say he was picked up because he had a criminal record relating to similar cases in the past. He was taken to the Piparpur police station in Amethi for questioning.
Mr Shukla's sons, who went to the police station along with their father, have alleged that the policemen at the station started intimidating their father and forcing him to accept his role in the theft. The sons allege they were threatened, their father assaulted and made to consume poison at some point when he was inside the police station.
Amethi's police chief has denied any torture and said that on the face of it, the death appeared to be a result of poisoning due to an unknown substance consumed by Mr Shukla before the police reached his home. The police claim they rushed him to a hospital after he started complaining of illness while at the station. An initial report prepared at a government hospital at 7:31 am on Tuesday says Mr Shukla had "ingested an unknown substance about 6 to 7 hours earlier". The police say this would have been before the time Mr Shukla was picked up by the police.
In the FIR (First Information Report), Piparpur police station and the Special Operations Group of Amethi Police are named as "accused". No individuals have been named.
"Shukla was accused earlier in a case of bank robbery and a vehicle theft case . We took him for questioning based on the previous criminal cases against him. He came to the police station along with two sons. Once there, he complained of uneasiness . He was taken to hospital and doctors found that prime facie it was a case of poisoning. A high-level investigation has been ordered," Amethi police chief Khyati Garg said.
The businessman's relatives say they are not convinced and alleged the local police is trying to cover up the case.
"The policemen kept on threatening my brother. They kept asking him to hand over the cash that was robbed. My brother pleaded his innocence. Later, when he was being taken to hospital by the police, he repeatedly told his sons that he had been fed something by the police," Om Prakash Shukla, the man's brother said.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi tweeted about the incident this morning. "The UP police goes easy on criminals but specialises in troubling citizens. The family of Satya Prakash Shukla from Pratapgarh says he was tortured by the police in front of his two children. Something similar happened in Hapur too . But the BJP government is not affected."