Malwani Police Station’s notoriety for alleged torture and custodial deaths might cease to shock any more. Hari Chavan’s death yesterday is yet another unfortunate addition to the list of deaths in a police station already facing Crime Branch probes for 2 similar incidents, one in 2011 and the other in 2013.
Although the Crime Branch has initiated an investigation, it is imperative to keep the Sr. Inspector and other responsible personnel away from the police station, in the interests of a free and fair probe.
DCP (Zone -II) B. Rajput’s statement to Mumbai Mirror- that Chavan wasn’t tortured and hanged himself by the sleeve of his shirt tied to a window grill because he was fearing arrest, beggars disbelief.
With Maharashtra Police having a record of having 23 percent of India’s custodial deaths (333 instances between 1999 and 2013) but only 45 FIRs, 19 charge sheets and ZERO convictions, the police can ill afford to let more of such incidents happen under its watch.
NAGAR POLICE REFORMS WATCH has strongly condemned this latest incident.
Given the unimpeachable evidence of a ten year pattern of deaths in custody NAGAR POLICE REFORMS WATCH has urged an independent inquiry to probe not only this death but into the pattern of deaths in Malwani and across Maharashtra that plague policing.
“We are indeed surprised that their frequency and numbers do not appear to be a matter of concern to the police or to the government that is responsible for their performance. Deaths in custody in such numbers and over such long periods cannot be explained away as aberrations or natural occurrences”, said members of Police Reforms Watch.
They also added – “The public does not come to police stations to suddenly become terminally ill or commit suicide as their place of choice This is precisely the reason that since 2006. the Supreme Court has insisted that Maharashtra set up a credible, independent and effective Police Complaints Authority to look into patterns of malpractice within the police.In response Maharashtra has still not instituted a Police Complaints Authority which the Chief Minister must do so immediately now. The National Human Rights Commission must also suo moto look into such cases. Slow or opaque measures in individual cases and lack of will to look into patterns of behaviour by existing oversight bodies such as the State Human Rights Commission amounts to condoning this pattern and consequent impunity”.
In January 2015 ,the Maharashtra Government gave an undertaking to the Bombay High Court that it would install CCTV cameras in all cells across all police stations in Maharashtra . This has not been done . It is believed by activists who work closely on Police reform issues that unless this is done at the earliest the police’s impunity for custodial deaths would continue.