The Minister of Home Affairs
8th June 2015
Subject: Custodial Death of 24 year old Jagannath under PS. Okhla Phase I on 27th May 2015
We wish to draw your attention to a case which was brought before us by the deceased’s family. The deceased, Jagannath, a home tutor, died under mysterious circumstances on 27th May 2015 while in the custody of policemen belonging to the Okhla Phase 1 PS. The case is being investigated by IO Vijendra Nagar of the same PS.
Based on preliminary inquiries and investigation, PUDR wishes to raise certain points:
- The PUDR team believes that death is a custodial death as the deceased, Jagannath, was in the custody of the police at the time of the incident. Even if the official version—that the deceased suddenly decided to run away after entering the PS in the custody of policemen and that he accidentally collided with a dumper on the main road, Ma Anandamayee Marg—is correct, the question of custody is indisputable and the policemen are accountable for this death.
- The deceased’s family has stated that they were not handed over the body; instead, they claimed that the police exerted pressure on them to agree to a hasty cremation under police protection.
- A protest demonstration demanding justice and action was held near the Police Station by Jagannath’s students and friends from Indira Kalyan Vihar on 28 May 2015. Six of them were picked up by the police and neighbours allege that they were picked up on the basis of a fabricated video and that it was done by the police in order to instil fear among the protesters.
- The deceased’s family alleges that they are being pressurized over the phone, by ‘some advocates’, to state that the death of Jagannath was ‘accidental’.
- The deceased’s family has not been given a copy of the post-mortem report, despite repeated inquiries at the PS.
We hope that a magisterial inquiry under S. 176 CrPC has been launched into this case which will focus on the role of the police: the lapses/negligence (whether deliberate or not) of the police caused Jagannath’s death; ii) its further role in intimidating protesters; iii) pressuring the family into agreeing to a hasty cremation under police protection and; iv) refusing to hand a copy of the post mortem to the family.
We urge you to also inquire into the role of your local leader as he should have ensured that the police handed over the body to the family for performing the last rites, and also intervened in the allegations of harassment.
Megha Bahl, Sharmila Purkayastha