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Prisoner died in custody, say police

punjab Updated: May 16, 2014 09:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Ten days after the “abduction” of prisoner Bikramjit Singh, police on Thursday finally admitted that the Amritsar central jail inmate, who was undergoing 20-year imprisonment, died due to torture in police custody at Batala.

On May 5, the police had claimed that Bikramjit had escaped from the toilet of a city hospital where he was under treatment.

The body of the victim, a resident of Algaon Kothi village, was thrown by the policemen in the Bhakra canal near Anandpur Sahib in Roopnagar district. The body, which was later fished out of the canal, was cremated by the police.

Relatives of Bikramjit recognised him from a photograph that the police took before cremating him.
Besides, the finger prints of the dead body also matched with those of the victim.

The prime accused and mastermind in the case is alleged to be inspector Naurang Singh of the counter-intelligence wing. He is already being tried in court for a number of cases, including those related to ‘stage-managed encounters’ during the period of terrorism, when he remained posted in the border area and was a ‘favourite’ of some top police officials.

The reasons that the cops gave for the ‘abduction’ was that Bikramjit, despite being lodged in the central jail, was involved in heroin smuggling. The counter-intelligence wing was keen to lay its hands on him to get details of his activities from jail and his contacts outside.

Addressing a press conference, Amritsar commissioner of police (CP) Jatinder Singh Aulakh said that of the 13 persons named in the FIR registered at the local civil lines police station, seven have been arrested.

hey were identified as assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs) Gulshanbir Singh and Surinder Singh, head constables Amandeep Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Angrez Singh, Randhir Singh and Maktool Singh. They have all been charged with abduction. Those at large are inspector Naurang Singh, ASI Baljit Singh, head constable Gurpreet Singh, constables Jagjit Singh and Lakhwinder Singh and Jagtar Singh, a local resident.

Barring the seven arrested persons, others were booked under sections 302 and 201 (destruction of evidence) of IPC. Aulakh claimed that Bikramjit was a drug addict and would often get himself admitted in hospital.

ASI Gulshanbir and head constables Amandeep and Lakhwinder were aware that the convict had contacts with heroin smugglers and was involved in smuggling activities despite being in jail. The three cops would often accompany him to hospital on guard duty to ensure that he does not slip away.

As per plan, a trap was laid on Chamrang Road on May 5. Bikramjit had earlier been paid
Rs 1.22 lakh in exchange for heroin by one of his “abductors”, posing as a drug dealer.

Aulakh denied the role of a Chandigarh-based police officer in the case as alleged by the Bikramjit’s family who had claimed that Naurang is believed to be close to this officer, who has been involved in several controversies in the past.

The victim’s brother, Dalbir Singh, rubbished the police theory that his brother was abducted on Chamrang Road. He also denied police allegations of his brother being involved in heroin smuggling.

“I stand by my May 10 statement to the media that my brother was kidnapped from Guru Nanak Dev hospital on May 5 where he was being treated for a back bone problem. On Chamrang Road, the abductors switched vehicles”, he claimed.

As per Dalbir’s claims, on the evening of May 5, when he had gone to the hospital to deliver food to his brother, he saw some people pushing his brother into a SUV and beating him.

He chased the SUV and caught up with it on Chamrang Road where he was bundled into another vehicle.