The court’s decision to award former ACP RP Tyagi the death penalty on Friday for the death of Mahinder Singh and Ram Kumar in police custody 19 years ago marks the end of a long journey for justice. “It was a long and difficult journey,” says Rajinder Kumar, brother of victim Mahinder. Ironically, Rajinder Kumar himself turned hostile in the court and will face proceedings.
Besides Tyagi, nine other police officers were involved in the case. Of these, seven were acquitted for want of evidence.
Fighting a battle against policemen was not that easy, said Kaliram, a close relative of Mahinder Kumar. Despite police protection granted to the family on court orders, they were threatened and intimidated.
Mahinder Kumar’s mother, a prosecution witness in the case in her statement to the court said that Tyagi told her that he has already committed three murders.
Prosecution sources revealed that after registering of the case, several prosecution witnesses were harassed, beaten and falsely involved in cases to put pressure on the complainants to withdraw the case. During some proceedings, the judge said that the complainant apprehended a risk to his life and the court ordered in-camera proceedings. As per the prosecution, on August 16, 1987 on the occasion of Janmashthmi, one of victims hurt a constable. Although it was a simple injury, a case was registered against the Ram Kumar and his friend Mahinder Kumar. Fearing arrest, the two ran away from their homes. The police then started harassing their families.
Eight days later, victim Mahinder and Ram Kumar surrendered before the police.
The prosecution had alleged that at the police station, the two were beaten so mercilessly that they had to be taken to Lok Nayak hospital, where Mahinder died. His body was then sent for postmortem, which revealed 43 severe injuries on his body. The prosecution says the second victim was killed at Tyagi’s instance. The defence, however, argued that the police officers had got information that Mahinder and Ram Kumar were trying to rob people at knifepoint. When they reached the spot, they found the two had been badly beaten up by people of the area.
WHY IT is THE RAREST OF RARE
•The murder was brutal: victim Mahinder Kumar had 43 injuries on his body
•The accused were senior police officers. As the judge
put it: “They have more social responsibility towards the society. They are expected to protect the law.”
•The victims were helpless, having surrendered
before the police.
•The victims were scheduled caste people. Their deaths in 1987 caused resentment within the community and made it a case of arousing social wrath.
deaths in custody
•March 17,2005: a 60-year-old man, picked up by the Shahdara police for the alleged theft of a Tata-407, died under mysterious circumstances later. The police arrested a sub-inspector, an assistant sub-inspector, the vehicle owner and its driver on charges of murder.
The area Station House Officer (SHO) was also suspended.
•October 20, 2003: one Sushil Kumar was allegedly beaten to death in Madipur by the policemen in custody. Four police officers including a sub-inspector were arrested in the case.