Demonstrations continue over custody death of Dalit youth in RautahatFamily members of Bijay Kumar have refused to accept the probe committee formed by the Home Ministry.
Friends and relatives of the Dalit youth who died after allegedly being tortured by police in custody have continued their protest in Rautahat, saying they won’t accept the probe committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Bijay Kumar and six others were arrested on August 19 in connection to the death of Niranjan Ram, a local teenager, in Garuda Municipality. Nineteen-year-old Bijay died on August 26 and his family members have claimed that he was tortured in custody.
Police have been saying that Bijay died in the course of treatment for a kidney ailment.
However, a video of Bijay, which was taken in hospital prior to his death, shows him saying that he was indeed tortured by plainclothes police and forced to confess to the August 16 murder of 17-year-old Niranjan.
Bijay’s death has sparked protests in Rautahat. His family members, friends, local people and rights activists have been staging demonstrations in Garuda Bazar for the past one week.
Demonstrators took to the street in Garuda Bazaar on Monday demanding justice for Bijay. They also burnt the effigy of Gyan Kumar Mahato, the deputy superintendent of police at the Area Police Office in Garuda.
Chief District Officer of Rautahat Indra Dev Yadav said a three-member committee led by Dolendra Niraula, under-secretary at the Area Administration Office in Chandranigahapur, is investigating the case.
The demonstrators, however, doubt the committee will conduct a fair investigation. They have said that they won’t accept the committee, nor its findings.
"We cannot accept the committee which is represented by the local administration and the police," said Dharmendra Pasawan, a local Dalit leader.
Family members and friends of Bijay have claimed that some police personnel in plainclothes deployed from the District Police Office had tortured him in custody.
Nathuram Pariyar, a Dalit leader, claimed that Police Inspector Nabin Singh and the head constable duo Munna Singh and Firoj Alam had tortured Bijay.
The three officers, Pariyar added, were deployed by Rabiraj Khadka, the police chief of Rautahat, in order to extract confession out of Bijay.
"There should be a fair investigation and Inspector Singh and the two other police personnel should be brought to book," he demanded.
Pariyar also demanded that DSP Mahato and the other officers at Garuda Area Police Office should also face action.
Former lawmaker Bishwendra Pasawan has also been staging a sit-in in front of Garuda Area Police Office demanding a fair investigation into the case.
Meanwhile, a source at the Garuda Area Police Office said Inspector Singh's team had tortured Bijay on August 18 and 19. The source also said that DSP Mahato had also informed DIG Dhiraj Pratap Singh, the chief of Province 2 police, about Inspector Singh visiting Bijay in detention room to inquire about the murder case.
After Bijay's video became public, there has been an outcry on social media, calling for the removal of Inspector Singh.
Inspector Singh denied any wrongdoings. He said he had gone to Garuda for some other work and that he did not assault Bijay.
Following widespread protest, the Office of the Chief Attorney of Province 2 has recommended that the provincial police suspend the officers accused in the case.
Dipendra Jha, the chief attorney for the province, has also called for fair investigation into the case.