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'Unnatural' custodial death in West Bengal: NHRC told to investigate incident

Mother, wife of the deceased migrant worker
By Our Representative 
In a complaint to the chairperson, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), referring to the “unnatural death” in police custody of a marginalised Muslim migrant labour in West Bengal, has demanded “independent and impartial inquiry” either by either an NHRC investigative team or CID.
Insisting that the “police should be held accountable for not following the guidelines of arrest”, Roy in a letter to the NHRC chairman said, the family of the deceased – who hailed from Panighata Purbapara under Kaliganj Police station area in Nadia district of West Bengal -- should be protected and awarded “adequate” compensation, and the “inquest report of the victim should not be deemed reliable because due procedure was not followed while conducting the examination.” He insisted, “A fresh inquest should done by judicial magistrate.”
Referring to the case, Roy said, the victim, Abdul Goni Sekh, was arrested by Bhimpur police station of Nadia district with allegations of using fake currency notes. The facts in this case have been manipulated by the police, starting from the arrest of the deceased, the lodging of FIR, admission to the hospital, conduction of inquest and post-mortem and so on.”
He added, “The police have presented the case as a death due to ill-health whereas there are several testimonies and facts that point towards the culpability of the police in the death of the victim.”
According to Roy, “ As per police record, the victim was arrested on December 04, 2021 but the locals have seen the police officials taking the victim along with them two days before the date of arrest”, adding, “The victim used to be a migratory worker and worked in Haryana as daily labourer. The family members of the victim residing in Panighata village had no information of his return or getting arrested by the police.”
Even though the family members were present in the hospital for inquest and autopsy, they were not let inside the morgue
He continued, “The police visited the house of victim in Panighata at around 3:00 am on December 5 and informed his family that the victim is ill and admitted to Shaktinagar District Hospital. The police took signature of the family members on a form.”
Roy regretted, “The family was informed about the death of the victim at around 7:30 am by police and asked to be present during the inquest and post mortem at Shaktinagar District Hospital. But even though the family members were present in the hospital for inquest and autopsy, they were not let inside the morgue during inquest and autopsy. They were called in after the inquest and autopsy was done.”
Pointing out that the inquest was conducted by one Executive Magistrate, Mr. Ajoy Kumar Saha and not any judicial magistrate as stated in the 176 1(A) of the CrPC”, he said, “The police of Bhimpur and Kotowali police stations with nexus with civil administration conducted their role in perfunctory manner and thus violated sections of Criminal Procedure Code, 41B(b), 41C, 50, 50A, 53, 54, 57, 58 and 176(1)A.”
Roy believed, “The incident violates Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The incident also violates several sections of the Criminal Procedure Code, particularly those on arrest guidelines and Section 176 1(A) which requires inquest in cases of custodial death to be done by Judicial Magistrate. The police have also violated the DK Basu guidelines given by the Supreme Court of India.”

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