A week after a software engineer’s death in police custody triggered strong protests in Naugachhia police district, the election commission of India (ECI) late on Sunday ordered an inquiry into the allegations of the family that the engineer was killed by police in custody.
The ECI directed the Bhagalpur divisional commissioner to conduct enquiry into the alleged custodial killing of 30-year-old Ashutosh Kumar Pathak alias Appu.
“The enquiry officer shall submit his report within a period of seven days”, the EC order said. It states that allegations of custodial killing have been levelled against the Station House Officer (SHO) and four other personnel of the Bihpur police station. A police driver on contract is also an accused.
The alleged custodial death has evoked a sharp response from the Akhil Bhartiya Maithil Brahmin Mahasangh which has decided to boycott the second phase of assembly election scheduled on Tuesday to mark their protest against the alleged police cruelty.
The president of the mahasangh Prof Anirudh Thakur said on Monday that the organization and locals will boycott the elections to mark their anger against the police administration who failed to nab their own men – SHO Ranjeet Kumar and a contractual police driver Jehangir – are named accused in the murder case and were still evading arrest.
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Pathak was posted at Godda in Jharkhand was allegedly brutally tortured at Mahant Chowk falling under Bihpur police station on October 24 when got into an argument with a local youth over the removal of barriers. He along with wife and child had come to the village to spend his Navratri holidays.
His post-mortem report mentions that he died of haemorrhage and shock from multiple injuries received from a blunt object before death.
Naugachhia’s superintendent of police Swapna Ji Meshram said till date three policemen including an ASI and two homeguard jawans have been arrested and forwarded to judicial custody. Police said that during interrogation home guards have confessed that the suspended SHO had thrashed Pathak mercilessly with a baton until he had started bleeding. The ASI happened to be present at the police station when the assault happened.
Meshram said Pathak was rushed to nearby primary health centre and then to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JLNMCH) at Mayaganj in Bhagalpur where he died during treatment at around 3 am on October 25.
Outraged netizens have protested the police brutality in the Bhagalpur divisional commissionerate and have demanded justice for Pathak under the #justiceforashutosh on Twitter.