Youth dies in custody,constable booked
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
MORINDA (ROOPNAGAR), FEB 7: The DEATH of a Dalit youth, allegedly while in custody in the Morinda police station last night, triggered large-scale protests here today, even as a constable and four others were booked in the case and a magisterial inquiry was ordered. No arrests have been made in this connection. Angry residents of Saheri, from where the youth hailed, and other nearby villages gheraoed the Morinda police station this morning and blocked the Morinda-Ludhiana national highway around noon; the roadblock had not been lifted till the filing of this report. Some politicians also joined in, demanding that the culprits be arrested at the earliest.
According to sources, Jaspal Singh alias Kala, the deceased Dalit youth, was arrested on Tuesday in connection with a brawl in Saheri village a few days ago. While the authorities claimed he died suddenly after developing some health problems in custody, Kala's relatives alleged that he had been tortured to death. They demanded that Morinda police station SHO Tarlochan Singh be booked for murder.
In a written statement, Ropar SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said that Kala had been arrested under Section 107/151 of the CrPC on Tuesday. ``During custody, he developed some health problem and was taken to Morinda Civil Hospital, where he was declared brought dead at 11.40 pm'', he added.
While claiming SHO Tarlochan Singh had not been present during the case, the SSP said that a case had been filed in this connection under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC against Constable Manoj Kumar, Saheri village sarpanch Jagtar Singh and Saheri residents Surjit Singh, Gurmit Singh and Nirmal Singh.
Talking to The Indian Express, Kala's grieving mother Surinder Kaur said that around 8 pm on Tuesday, two policemen and some villagers came to her house asking after her son. ``I told them he had not yet returned from Morinda, where he works with a private tent house. They told me he was to be taken into custody over a case of brawling with a villager'', she said.
``Then, around 10 pm, the same villagers and one policeman came and forced my son to go with them on a scooter. They started beating him up then and there; he cried for help but to no avail. They went away, then around 4 am today, a villager told me my son had died in police custody.''
Kharar SDM Davinder Singh has initiated inquest proceedings in the case under the order of Roopnagar District Magistrate G.S. Grewal, though no villager presented himself as a witness for the post-mortem at the Roopnagar Civil Hospital. The villagers were demanding that the dead body be brought to the Morinda police station.
Sources said the post-mortem would be conducted tomorrow by a panel of doctors before a video camera.