An incensed mob of nearly 2,000 people thrashed two policemen, blocked roads and pelted stones at vehicles near their village 25 km south of Kanpur on Sunday.
Mob fury broke out after word got around in Kukardev village and surrounding areas that policemen from the nearby Bithoor police station had beaten middle-aged poultry farm caretaker Gajraj Singh to death for refusing to give chickens to the policemen free of cost.
Singh's body was found near the village by commuters on Sunday morning.
The villagers’ anger subsided after senior police and administration officials rushed to the spot and told the mob that Singh had died in a road accident.
Deputy inspector general of police Hari Ram Sharma told HT, “The allegations of custodial death are false. A man identified as Gajraj Singh, who worked at a poultry farm as a caretaker, had hired his neighbour Govind Singh's tempo to travel last night. Gajraj, who was sitting in the rear passenger seat in the tempo had his skull smashed due to a collision with a truck at Mandhna crossing.”
District Magistrate (DM) Anil Kumar Sagar said, “I have instituted a magisterial inquiry into the matter. It would be conducted by sub-divisional magistrate Sadar Raj Kumar to ascertain the real facts behind the incident to avoid any controversy.”
The DM also said that the people's allegations that Singh had died in custody were baseless.
Rajvati Devi, an eyewitness told HT, “Some policemen including constable Ram Kishore Patel and Home Guard Ram Sajivan Bajpayee took Gajraj Singh away when he refused to supply them chickens from the poultry farm where he worked. But later his body was recovered on the street outside the Kukardev village, triggering panic in the area.”
When Singh's body was found on a street outside the village on Sunday morning, the local residents' panic turned into fury and spread to nearby villages. Within hours, hundreds of irate villagers gathered at Kukardev and beat up the two policemen suspected of having beaten Singh to death in custody, blocked the road and damaged vehicles.