Calcutta HC orders West Bengal CID to probe deaths of 4 inmates in custody | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Calcutta HC orders West Bengal CID to probe deaths of 4 inmates in custody

May 04, 2023 03:50 PM IST

The victims, identified as Abdul Rezzak Dewan, Jiaul Laskar, Saidul Munshi and Akbar Khan, died between July 31 and August 2 last year

The Calcutta high court on Tuesday ordered the criminal investigation department (CID) of the West Bengal Police to probe back-to-back deaths of four inmates of Baruipur correctional home on the southern outskirts of state capital Kolkata between July and August 2022, lawyers said.

The Calcutta high court. (PTI File Photo)
The Calcutta high court. (PTI File Photo)

The victims, identified as Abdul Rezzak Dewan, Jiaul Laskar, Saidul Munshi and Akbar Khan, died between July 31 and August 2 last year, according to reports submitted before the division bench of acting chief justice TS Sivagnanam and justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya.

Police at three stations of South 24 Parganas district – Baruipur, Maheshtala and Bishnupur – arrested the four persons days before their deaths on charges of planning to commit dacoity, the reports claimed. They were sent to judicial custody and lodged at Baruipur correctional home. Dewan was the first one to be arrested on July 24.

The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) filed a writ petition seeking a court-monitored inquiry into the deaths by either a special investigation team (SIT) or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A copy of Tuesday’s court order was reviewed by HT.

“Earlier, the state had directed to file a report and in pursuance of the direction the chief controller of Baruipur correctional home had filed a report dated 16th January, 2023 on 17th January, 2023. Thereafter, there appears to have been no progress in the matter though the learned counsel appearing for the state would submit that an enquiry was conducted by the concerned learned judicial magistrate, South 24 Parganas, to examine as to whether the cause of death was due to unnatural cause,” the order read.

“It is almost a year since the incident occurred and till date there has been no appreciable progress in the investigation and wrong doers have not been brought to book. Therefore, prima facie, we are of the view that the state police, who are currently investigating into the matter, failed to make required progress,” it added.

“Considering the sensitivity of the matter, we direct the ninth respondent, namely, the directorate general of police, West Bengal, to immediately transfer all the four cases to CID and the CID should take up the matters for investigation and file an action taken report on the next date of hearing. The investigating authority shall call for all relevant reports including the report prepared by the learned chief judicial magistrate, South 24 Parganas,” the order further said.

The case will be heard again on June 19.

No senior police officer of South 24 Parganas district could be reached for comments.

Lawyer Kaushik Gupta, representing APDR, said, “While two of the victims died in the hospital, the others succumbed to injuries while being taken to hospital. All four were arrested on charges of planning to commit dacoity, which arouses suspicion. Two of the four postmortem reports that we produced before the court said multiple injuries were found on the bodies. This indicates torture in custody.”

Ranjit Sur, general secretary of APDR, said, “The court has given us the liberty to add CBI as a party. We are shocked that four members of the minority community died in this manner. The entire episode was kept under secretary. None of the deaths were reported by the media. We suspect that senior police officials were involved. Families of the victims were given a compensation of 5 lakh each. The money was disbursed quickly.”

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