A 25-year-old Dalit youth died under mysterious circumstances allegedly during a police raid on a gambling den in Dabholi area in Surat, sparking a backlash from locals.
The incident took place on Sunday evening when sub-inspector NS Patel, attached to Chowk Bazar police station, conducted the raid on a tip-off that a gambling den was operating in the locality.
Locals have alleged that Mahendra Makwana died after being beaten by police, but Chowk Bazar police claims he died of an “epileptic seizure” while fleeing the spot.
“Based on a complaint filed by Makwana’s father, Gamanbhai, we have lodged an FIR against Patel, who is receiving treatment in hospital. He is charged under Section 302 of the IPC (murder) and under various sections of the Prevention of Atrocity Act,” said police station officer of Chowk Bazar Ishwar Parmar.
Police inspector MR Nakum said Makwana fell unconscious while he was running away from police along with others, and later died in a hospital. He added that an angry mob attacked Patel with sticks assuming that he had beaten Makwana, which lead to his death.
Following the incident, an FIR was also lodged against the mob for attacking Patel.
“When Patel reached the spot [on Sunday] evening, some suspected persons, including Makwana, started running away to evade arrest. While escaping Makwana fell down on the road following epileptic seizure and became unconscious. Though he was rushed to a hospital, he subsequently died,” said Nakum.
“We have lodged a case of rioting and assault on police against the mob,” Nakum added.
However, locals and relatives of Makwana claim that the youth died after he was “mercilessly beaten up by Patel during the raid”.
“Police are not telling the truth. Makwana was never into gambling. He was nabbed when he was passing from that road and mercilessly beaten up by Patel without any reason,” claimed a relative.
Doctors at the civic-run SMIMER Hospital who conducted Makwana’s autopsy said they have found an injury mark on one of the victim’s legs.
“We found a minor injury mark on his leg. To find out the exact reason of his death, we will consult the pathology and microbiology departments. We will also send his viscera samples for forensic examination,” said Dr Pranav Prajapati.
The incident comes at a time of large-scale protests in parts of Gujarat over flogging of some Dalit youths at Una in Gir-Somnath district earlier this month over skinning of a dead cow, allegedly by self-styled cow protection vigilantes.