All 15 policemen at a police outpost in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur have been suspended and one has been accused of murder after a young Dalit man was found dead in custody. Some of the policemen are missing.
Kamal Valmiki, 25, was called in for questioning on Tuesday about a theft. Yesterday, he was found hanging in lock-up.
News of his death brought a large group of protesters, including Valmiki’s relatives, to the police post. The mob clashed with the police and threw stones at them.
Valmiki’s family alleges that he died after severe beating. Kamal was allegedly taken away by a constable named Valmiki, who now faces a murder case.
In one of their many questionable moves, the policemen sent the body for a post-mortem under a different name – Raju Mistry.
The police claim the name change was a mistake, not deliberate. But a search is also on for the real Raju Mistry, who is missing.
“A custody death is absolutely unacceptable. There is no question of not taking action,” Uttar Pradesh police chief Javed Ahmed told NDTV.
Among the questions begging investigation are how a man committed suicide in the presence of so many cops and how he found rope to hang himself.
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh is confronting opposition anger over the state of law and order as it campaigns for re-election in elections next year.
Dalits, who form 26 per cent of the state’s voters, are already in protest mode over cow vigilantism in various states, in which the poorest have been targeted by self-appointed “cow protectors”.
In July, four young Dalit men were stripped to the wait, beaten and hauled around tied to an SUV after they were accused of cow slaughter in Gujarat’s Una, triggering massive Dalit protests.
Former chief minister Mayawati, a Dalit powerhouse, has pivoted her campaign on these incidents.