Mangalore: Dalit ends life after questioning by police

MANGALORE AUG 31: A 30-year-old Dalit from Kerala, who was staying at
a relative's house at Kulai 20 km from here, committed suicide by
hanging. The body of the victim, who has been identified as Bijulal,
was discovered at around 6 a.m. on Monday and his relatives alleged
that he was pushed to take the extreme step because of harassment by
the police.

On Friday a joint investigation team comprising officers from
Bangalore's Peenya Police station and Surathkal police station had
picked up and allegedly assaulted members of a Dalit family. The
police team was in search of a youth named Subhash from Mangalore who
was charged with kidnapping a Hindu girl from Bangalore. The family
maintains that the couple is in love and eloped fearing retribution.

Nevertheless, the police team allegedly forced its way into Subhash's
relative's the house and dragged Bijulal (30), Somu (16) and Shaina
(19) to the Surathkal police station.

While Shaina and Somu alleged that they were assaulted by the police,
Bijulal did not make any such claims.

“But the police tortured him mentally and threatened him with dire
consequences during interrogation,” said an inconsolable Shaina who
spoke to The Hindu on Monday following Bijulal's death.

Sajani, another relative of the deceased, said: “Biju was a very timid
man and was prone to depression. His psychological State was not very
stable after his father's death last year. We told this to the police
when they were dragging him away but they would not listen.” She
blamed the police for his death.

According to her, Bijulal began sulking and was in a petrified state
after coming back from the police station. “He kept saying that the
police would kill him and that they would find him wherever he went,”
said Ms. Shaina. On Sunday evening he left home saying that he would
return to Kerala as he would feel safe there.

“The next morning our neighbours found his body hanging from a tree,” she said.

Incidentally, the man's death comes a day after the monthly SC/ST
grievance meeting at the city police headquarters, where Assistant
Commissioner of Police S. Girish insisted that his subordinates had
not acted outside the purview of the law in the incident.

However, despite the death, Police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar Singh
told The Hindu that Bijulal was called to the police station only for
questioning. “He was mentally disturbed for the last 10 days. His
uncle told us that that he was mentally disturbed even before he was
picked up for questioning,” he said.

But he denied allegations that the police action had acted as the
final trigger. However, he assured a fair and impartial probe.

The Dalit family is now worried about the future of the missing
couple. “If something happens to them the police will be responsible,”
said Ms. Sajani.



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