A 47-year-old man was found dead while in the custody of the Malwani police, just a few hours after he was brought in for questioning in a burglary case on Thursday morning. The police said the man committed suicide by hanging himself from a window grille, using his shirt. The death sparked protests outside the police station.
Hari Chavan was a hawker at a traffic signal. Early on Thursday around 5am, a team of five to six policemen attached to the Malwani police station showed up at his Ambhujwadi residence in Malad (West). They took him to the police station, where his son-in-law Saipan Kale had been held in connection to a burglary case, the police said. Kale had allegedly claimed the stolen property was with Chavan. Chavan was left in a room on the first floor of the police station, while policemen continued interrogating Kale. Later in the morning, when his daughter Heena, who is married to Kale, came to the police station, she found Chavan hanging.
“Chavan allegedly used his shirt sleeve to tie a noose around his neck and hung himself from the window grille. His body was discovered around 8.45pm when his family member spotted him,” said a senior officer, adding Chavan was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead before admission. The Mumbai crime branch will be investigating the custodial death case, said Balsingh Rajput, deputy commissioner of police, zone XI.
As news about Chavan’s death spread in his neighbourhood, local residents gathered outside the police station with banners, to protest against the police. They demanded the arrest of the policemen under whose watch the incident took place. Additional police personnel had to be dispatched to contain the situation, as protesters tried to obstruct traffic.
Crime branch officers said Kale has confessed to committing three offences, following his arrest on Thursday. A preliminary probe revealed negligence on the part of the detection staff, who had left Chavan alone in a detection room on the first floor of the building.
“Chavan’s body has been sent to JJ Hospital for an inquest panchnama and the crime branch will record statements of the concerned detection staff of the police station, to ascertain the sequence of events. There was no CCTV camera in the room where Chavan was kept,” said a crime branch officer. Unit XI of the crime branch has registered a case in the matter. They conducted a panchnama of the spot and are recording statements of the detection staff of the police station.