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People in Bihar take to the streets protesting custodial death

By M I Khan
September 16, 2011 13:00 IST
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The death of a suspected thief, Govind Rajbhar, in police custody early Friday in Siwan district has angered people in Bihar. Rajbhar is alleged to have been beaten and tortured by the police.     

This case of custodial death comes a day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered a probe by Additional Director General Rajyavardhan Sharma into the police lathicharge and assault on women in Nalanda district, and the immediate suspension of three policemen who were involved in the incident.

Angry over the death of Rajbhar, hundreds of people took to the streets in Bihar raising slogans against the police. Protestors blocked main roads in Siwan and demanded the arrest of the police officers involved. 

"Police badly beat him up and tortured him during interrogation," said a family member of Rajbhar.

His family members alleged that Rajbhar was murdered in police custody after they failed to pay a bribe demanded by the police for his release. "First he was badly beaten, tortured and then some policemen used a rope to strangulate him. There is a rope mark on his neck," a close relative of Rajbhar said.

Sensing tension and trouble in Siwan, local Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Vyasdeo Prasad and Siwan MP Om Prakash Yadav promised people they would help protestors seek justice.

A district official said that the victim's family members along with local people gheraoed police officials and refused to hand over his body for postmortem for hours. Only after police officers assured that action will be taken against the guilty, did people allow the police to take the victim's body for postmortem. 

Bihar Director General of Police, Abhyanand, confirmed that it was a case of death in police custody. "An inquiry would be conducted and the guilty would be punished," he said.

However, Siwan's Deputy Superintendent of Police Satyanarain Prasad said that it appeared to be a case of suicide.

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M I Khan in Patna