PUCL report on custodial death in Nawada
The media published a report on 16-1-2012 about violent protest at Nawada following the discovery of the dead body of Manoj Yadav s/o Dayanand Yadav in the wheat field. According to the report, the report the protesters asserted that Manoj was killed in police custody. Bihar PUCL constituted an enquiry team constituted Ram Ashray Prasad, Nageshwar Prasad, General Secretary of State , Jitendra and Manish, members.
The team visited the place of occurrence on 20 January, met deceased family members, policemen including accused Dy SP Sanjay Kumar Singh, Member of Parliament Bhola Prasad Singh, villagers and local social activists.
Version of the victim’s family members
The team met deceased’s mother Shakunti Devi, 60, wife Rina Devi, 25, aunt Sudami Devi, younger brother Surajdev yadav, and cousion Kaushal Yadav.
They told that after getting constant pressure from SHO Devendra Choudhary and Dy SP Sanjay Kumar Singh, Manoj’s father Dayanand Yadav, himself took Manoj to Town Police Station Nawada on 11 January, 2012. Dayanand was assured that police would let off Manoj after short interrogation. But later Police denied of releasing Manoj. Police accused Manoj of ‘stealing’ a mobile from a trader Sanjay Kumar Burma who was killed on 30 September, 2011 and also possible ‘suspect’ in the murder. Meanwhile the allegation was more ‘verbal’ and circumstantial assumptions.
Manoj Yadav, 30-year-old, was a Plumber. His two daughters are Khoosboo Kumari, 6-years, Pooja, 4-years and a one year old son. He purchased a mobile in late October from a woman labourer who was working in the field where Manoj was working in as plumber.
Manoj didn’t even know how to operate a mobile. He didn’t even change the SIM but continued to use it. When Police called him on this number, Manoj revealed his identity without any hesitation. A co-villager said that Police called him four times on his mobile.
The food for Manoj was brought by the family members daily to the police station. When Shakunti Devi reached with food on 13 January to Police Station, groaning Manoj told her about the kind of torture being inflicted on him like electric shock and other methods. He pleaded with his mother somehow to release him. When his mother requested officers like Dy SP and SHO, they turned down her request.
In the evening, his father and younger brother reached PS with dinner. They didn’t find Manoj inside police lock-up. They were told by SHO that Manoj was taken out by Dy SP for interrogation, probably he would have already been freed, better that they search for him outside.
Meanwhile, they searched all over and not finding Manoj then they returned home. Manoj didn’t reach home even by next morning. His wife Rina Devi reached PS next morning (14 January) with lunch; SHO’s questions surprised and stunned her. They asked from Rina the whereabout of Manoj who was supposed to have been released previous evening. When Rina Devi showed her helplessness and requested the officers to release Manoj, she was rebuked and threatened to face dire consequences if she did not bring Manoj to the police station. Wailing Rina returned home. Her father-in-law spent the whole day looking for Manoj in nearby villages and among of their relatives. Manoj didn’t return home that evening also.
However, in the morning of 15 January, 2011, they got the news from fellow villagers that Manoj’s body was found inside the field, nearby west of Gaya-Kiul rail line. The family headed towards the spot where they found a mob had gathered and fighting with the police. The women members took shelter inside nearby temple. But the police didn’t leave them. Police had brutally beaten up these women. The team could see scar’s on these person. The right hand of 70-yrs old deceased’s grandmother had broken by lathi blows.
Earlier also, in the evening of 11 November, 2011, Dy SP led a team including SHO reached his house dragged him out from house, beaten their family members and took him to Police station; where he was kept for 16 days. He was released after intervention of Local political leaders and MP, Bhola Prasad. But the police dairy showed he was kept for 20 minutes inside custody.
In this connection deceased’s father Dayanand Yadav s/0 Late Radho Yadav registered an FIR no. 29/2012 against guilty policemen on 15 Jan, 2012.
According to FIR, Dy SP Sanjay Kumar Singh and his bodyguard, Inspector Devendra Choudhary, Sub-Inspector Rajkumar, VK Mishra and Vipin Singh alias Rajababu daroga and other police staffs reached his home on 11 January, 2012 and took his son Manoj by assuring family members that he would be freed after short interrogation. On 12 and 13 January we met Manoj in police custody where he was groaning and crying in pain. When family members arrived police station on 14 January at 2 pm, Manoj was not in the police station. Some Policemen told them that Dy SP Sanjay Kumar Singh had taken Manoj for some investigation. On 15 January, the news was spread like wild fire that Manoj’s body was found in a wheat field behind the VIP colony. So Dayanand claimed that all the above mentioned policemen had conspired and killed his son.
Version of local activists
Member of Parliament, Bhola Prasad Singh said a family member of Manoj Yadav came to him on 25 November, 2011, and told him about illegal detention of Manoj Yadav at the Nawada town police station.
Subsequently, on 26 Novemebr, 2011, Mr Singh himself asked the Nawada SP, the reason for detaining Manoj Yadav behind bars without any charges and without presenting him before a court of laws for the last 15 days. After that Manoj was released. He reiterated that Manoj was innocent.
Citizen Rights Forum’s President Dinesh Kumar Akela, Social Activist Arbind Mishra, Village Head of Bhadokhara Panchayat Ashok Kumar, Editor of Windowa magazine Shambhu Vishkarma, Political activist Krishna Vallabh Yadav, Dr Chandrika Yadav etc were other persons who followed the incident and whom the team met.
They claimed that there were at least four more detainees along with Manoj inside custody. One of them was Shako yadav of Mangalbigaha colony under Town Police Station of Nawada. Presently, Shako Yadav is in Nawada district jail. The rest of the detainees were freed in haste including a juvenile of Gaya district fearing from public protest.
They said after getting information of dead body of Manoj yadav, a wave of shock and anger ran across the Nawada town. Thousands of people assembled where the body was shouting slogans against police whom they blamed for this murder. When the two young sub-inspectors Chandan Kumar Yadav and Santosh Kumar Yadav reached the spot to confiscate the body, the mob attacked them. Their bike was set off on fire, revolvers with nine live cartridges snatched away; and Chandan received head injuries but Santosh escaped the fury of the mob. The whole Nawada town was turned into a battlefield. DM imposed section-144 across the town but the mob defied it. Soon after, police started lathicharge against the protesters who had, also blocked the National Highway. In the meantime the women member’s of Manoj’s family were also caught between police and protesters and took shelter in a nearby Temple. They were chased and brutally beaten up. Manoj’s grandmother’s hand was broken.
Dr Chandrika Yadav himself claimed that he had talked SHO on 23 November 2011 for the releasing of Manoj. It was he who suggested to Manoj’s father to seek help from the local MP. Mr Yadav reiterated that Manoj was innocent and a known face in Nawada, may be because he was plumber.
Visited the spot where body was thrown
The deceased’s body was at a lonely place, behind the VIP colony, nearly 2 km of east of Nawada town police station, just 200 m away, west to the Gaya-Kiul rail line. It was the field of wheat, where a part of crops destroyed due to gathering of the villagers. There was a house of Suresh Prasad, a mason by profession, nearby 300-400 m away north from where body was found.
The male member of the house was out of station to attend relative’s funeral since 15 January. There were Sushila Devi w/o Suresh Pd and their daughter, who is a widow, Soni Devi along with two children present in the house. Both work in the field as laborers.
They said they were not aware of this fact who threw the body there. But the police had been continuously threatening them. They barged into the house after evening, threatening to spill the bean’s about killing.
A charred motorcycle, its burnt parts spread all around, near the clay road.
Post mortem report
A post mortem was conducted after letter no. 215/Nawada dated 15-01-2012, issued by District Magistrate. The observers were Dr WP Singh, Dr Ashok Kumar and Executive Magistrate Mr Shaym Rao. The report doesn’t ascertain any reason for death. Some samples of parts of the body like Viscera, brain, left lung, heart, liver, Kidney, tongue, spleen and stomach with its contents were kept for chemical analyst. But at the same time reports also indicates some important facts like stiffness marks present all over the thin body, both eyes were congested(crammed), lividity (dark bluish grey color) present at back of the left shoulder, left side of chest, back and left genital. The bluish discoloration (cyanish) of both lips, both pinnacle of nose and tip of tongue and tip of all the fingers and toes. The body was not decomposed.
The report also states that the internal side of left knee has two abrasion and also abrasion at decapular region of ¼ square inch. All the viscera were intact and crammed, the chambers of the hearts were empty, stomach contained blackish semi-digested food and urinary bladder was empty. The report also affirm that time elapsed since death between 6 hr to 24 hr.
The Post Mortem report was undersigned by Dr Praveen Kumar Sinha, MD, Sadar Hospital, Nawada.
The accused Dy SP Sanjay Kumar Singh said Manoj was ‘possible’ suspect in the murder case of goldsmith Sanjay Kr Burma last year. But he was not clear over the regular ‘use’ of the ‘looted’ SIM by Manoj and his associates or family.
The newly appointed Town Police Station Inspector, Vijay Kumar Jha couldn’t divulge details but he showed documents regarding this case. He is also Investigation Officer of this case. The document revealed Manoj Yadav was called to Police Station on 11 November, 2011 at 1:20 pm and he was let off at 1:40 pm. There was no entry document regarding his second arrest on 11 January, 2012.
The two FIR’s were lodged by Police against mob. FIR no. 30/012 registered by Sub-Inspector Santosh Kumar in which he accused 300-400 unidentified people for obstructing in executing their duty and attempt to kill policemen.
FIR no. 31/012 registered by Sub-Inspector Smita Sinha. In which she accused 300-400 unidentified people for obstructing them in executing their duty.
- All the evidences available especially according to the testimonies of Manoj’s family members, Manoj was taken away from his residence by the policemen to the police station on 11 Novemebr, 2011. It is also clear that he was illegally kept in police custody for more than two weeks. This statement of the family was corroborated by the fact that only political intervention of the local member of parliament Sri Bhola Prasad could release Manoj from police custody.
- Though, Manoj was again taken into Police custody on 11 January, 2012, no entry was made in the station diary. Police didn’t follow the procedure as per mentioned in the DK Basu judgement given by the Supreme court.
- Till the 13 January, the family members who took food regularly to police sation for Manoj, indicates that Manoj was in Police custody and being tortured. This fact is corroborated by the fellow detainees of Manoj Yadav. According to the FIR, Manoj’s father claims that on 14 January when he went to police station, he was told that Manoj was taken out for questioning by the Dy SP.
- Manoj’s body was found in wheat field by the villagers in the morning of the 15 January, 2012.
- The Police also tied to mislead Manoj’s family by saying that he was released and they should look for him elsewhere.
- Therefore, the team reached the inevitable conclusion that Manoj was killed in Polic custody.
- Though the post mortem report has not conclusively reached at the cause of death. Yet primary observation as well as medical jurisprudence indicate the use of physical torture resulting in his death.
- Not finding any clue about the murder of a Goldsmith, Sanjay Kr Burma, on 30 sept, 2011, the police put a lot of weight on the mobile which Manoj had in his possession. Hence it is quite logical that they picked him up hoping to solve the murder of Mr Burma. According to the versions of Dy SP, after putting the mobile number on surveillance for certain period of time no evidence was found to implicate Manoj.
- There was no proof of Manoj’s involvement, associations; he had no criminal precedent record in any police stations. Neither villagers nor the local activists had said anything negative about him.
- It is pertinent to note that Manoj was totally ignorant about the use of mobile and its technology as clear from the fact that the he didn’t even replace the SIM.
- The whole incident as handle by the police shows that Nawada police is in the habit of detaining people without any regard to legal provision such as making entry in the police diary.
- It is true that mob reacted violently and went on berserk. The fact that mob had turned violent spontaneously shows that they couldn’t accept Manoj as being pictured as criminal.
- Even after two weeks and continuous public protest, no breakthrough is forseeable with regard to Manoj’s killing. Hence we strongly suggest the setting up of Judicial enquiry in the interest of Justice to the family of Manoj.
- The guilty policemen should be prosecuted under section-302.
- A proper compensation should be provided along with a govt job to the wife of the deceased.
- A mechanism should be developed to prevent the misuse of station diary and the other practices. The Superintendent rank officer should be made accountable for any gross human rights violations. The use of third degree measures in dealing with people in custody be totally prohibited.
- Since the practice of custodial torture is widespread, we suggest that a forum of enlightened citizen be formed at the district level to oversee and contain such practices.
Ramashray Pd Singh Nageshwar Prasad
Jitendra Manish Kumar