The Mumbai police have reportedly suspended four police constables for allegedly beating a 22-year-old man named Raju Velu Devendra to death in the Nehru Nagar slum area on March 30.
The Bombay High Court had on 17 August transferred the case to a SIT. A bench comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Anuja Prabhudesai had ordered the the Mumbai Police chief to appoint two officers with ‘impeccable integrity’ to probe the case. The Mumbai Police has been asked to complete the investigation within a month.
Contradictory claims by Mumbai Police
According to ACP (Santacruz) Suhas Raikar, the deceased criminal had broken into a house with the intent to execute a robbery but was overpowered by the local residents. Although the Mumbai Police initially claimed that Raju was lynched to death by locals, they later informed the Bombay High Court that the CCTV footage showed no ‘mob lynching’. On Monday, they, however, told the court that four constables namely Santosh Desai, Digambar Chauhan, Ankush Palve, and Anand Gaikwad had been suspended for beating the victim.
Detainee exposes ‘sham investigation’ of Mumbai Police
Reportedly, the said policemen registered a complaint on March 31 and had detained 8 people from Chawl No 5 for the death of Raju. They had even claimed that two ‘accused’ had confessed to the crime of a mob assault. As per reports, they were released after 8 days in detention. The accused policemen told the family that the deceased man was thrashed on being caught red-handed, leading to his death. One of the men detained by the Mumbai police informed that on the intervening night of March 29-30, the four cops nabbed Raju after locals had informed the police while he was breaking into a house. He said that Raju was assaulted when he was trying to escape.
Advocate files PIL in Bombay High Court
Reportedly, an advocate by the name of Firdause Irani had written to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Mumbai Commissioner of Police and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) highlighting police brutality. Eventually, he approached the Bombay High Court and had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in this regard.
Irani had alleged that to enforce lockdown orders, Mumbai Police has been inflicting atrocities on people and had enclosed the report by a human rights organisation to claim that during the lockdown, 15 people, including 2 in Mumbai, had died due to police brutality to enforce lockdown. Raju’s name was among the victims.
In July, the Bombay High Court had expressed displeasure over the delays in the case. A government lawyer had stated that CCTV footage had shown the deceased man being assaulted by 4 cops using fibre lathis. The HC had ordered the Juhu police to expedite the investigation.
Raju Velu’s family had informed that they were chased by policemen while going to a relative’s house on March 30 and Raju was caught. On the next day, they were allegedly informed by the police that Raju was lying at Nehru Nagar Chowk. Upon taking him to the hospital, he was declared brought dead.