Family refuses to claim body; police resort to mild lathi charge to disperse crowd
Tension prevailed outside Wadala TT police station on Tuesday after hundreds gathered to protest the alleged custodial death of a 26-year-old Antop Hill resident in the early hours of Monday. While five police personnel were suspended, the police resorted to mild lathi charge in the evening when some of the protesters refused to disperse.
According to the police, Vijay Singh (26) was picked up by a patrolling unit after he was seen arguing with a couple in Antop Hill around 11.35 p.m. on Sunday. He was brought to the police station with another friend, who was also present at the spot, along with the couple, for inquiries. The police claimed that Singh complained of chest pain while inquiries were on and was allowed to leave, but collapsed at the police station gate. He was then taken to Sion Hospital, where he was declared dead before admission on Monday morning.
On Tuesday, as news of his death broke, hundreds, including his family members, relatives, and neighbours marched to the police station and staged a sit-in on the road at 11 a.m. They refused to claim Singh’s body, raising slogans against the police and displaying placards with words ‘Justice For Vijay’, and demanded immediate action against those responsible.
“The police have no right to treat the law as their plaything and kill whoever they like. No matter what they say, my brother died after being assaulted by them and we will not move unless his killers are brought to book,” Singh’s brother Nirmal, who was at the centre of the protest along with his mother, said.
Finally, a delegation, including local political leaders, went to the police station and met Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) Saurabh Tripathi.
Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Tripathi addressed the protesters outside the police station. “What happened is very unfortunate and we have spoken to the family of the deceased. Five police personnel who were on duty at the time of the incident have been placed under suspension and other requests made by the family are also being met. We will conduct a second post-mortem examination at JJ Hospital and the case has already been transferred to the Mumbai Crime Branch, so that the local police station personnel have no scope to interfere with the probe. I request everyone to cooperate with us and stand with the family of the deceased in their hour of need,” Mr. Tripathi said.
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said one police sub-inspector, one assistant sub-inspector, a head constable, and two police constables have been suspended and further inquiries are under way.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said strict action would be taken in the matter. “I have taken the incident seriously and asked the police to take action,” Mr. Fadnavis, who is also in charge of the State Home ministry, said.
In the evening, the Wadala TT police resorted to mild lathi charge to clear some of the protesters outside the police station. While videos of the incident went viral on social media, there was no comment from the police.
In a fresh development on Tuesday night, the Wadala police booked the couple with whom Vijay and his friend had the argument for assaulting Vijay and registering a false complaint against him. “The couple got into an argument with Vijay and his friend Ankit Mishra over Vijay’s bike’s headlight beam falling on their face and during this time assaulted him on the face and chest. They further submitted a made-up complaint against him at the police station,” Mr. Ashok said.
Mr. Ashok said the couple has been booked for assault, criminal intimidation and submission of a false complaint under the Indian Penal Code.