A 19-year-old man, who had been illegally detained at a police station in Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli district, died in police custody on Sunday morning. Amid angry protests and allegations by his family that he was tortured, the local police station's in-charge was suspended on Sunday. The police, however, said the man - accused of stealing a bike- had symptoms like pneumonia, breathlessness, which are normally linked with coronavirus.
Monu aka Mohit, the 19-year-old, was detained by the police on Friday in the Lalganj area of Rae Bareli, about 80 km from state capital Lucknow, over suspected links to a gang allegedly involved in a motorcycle theft. He belonged to the SC community. Four other men were earlier held in the theft case.
All five men were illegally detained at the police station for over 24 hours. Monu's family alleged that he was tortured in the police custody. His family and locals led a protest outside the police station after news of his death broke.
"They (policemen) picked up me and my brother. They kept on asking him where are the keys. The thrashed Mohit (Monu) very badly in the police station," claimed Sonu, the 19-year-old's brother, who was also picked up and then let off by the cops.
The police has denied that Monu was tortured and instead claimed he died at the district hospital on Sunday morning, while he was still in their custody. He had symptoms that mirror Covid infection.
"On Saturday evening, Monu complained of stomach ache and he was taken to a nearby doctor and he was given medicine. Today morning (Sunday), he fell ill again and was rushed to the district hospital in Rae Bareli where doctors said his first symptoms of pneumonia and depleting oxygen levels - he had no physical injuries. He died at around 11 AM. We are getting a video-recorded post-mortem done and the family had given a complaint against two policemen and we are getting the cops investigated," said Swapnil Mamgain, Rae Bareli's police chief.
However, senior police officials have admitted he was illegally detained at the police station. "Prima facie we have found that the accused were kept in illegal detention in the police station for over 24 hours and we have suspended the police station in-charge because they should not have detained the accused illegally for over two days," Mr Mamgain said.