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Custodial death of 70-year-old: 3 accused Punjab Police head constables suspended; no arrest so far

Criminals in uniform? All five accused on the run; family members allege the victim, a heart patient, was thrashed by cops on way to the police station.

punjab Updated: Jan 04, 2018 16:11 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Custodial death,head constables suspended,death of 70-year-old
Deceased Harnek Singh

A day after a 70-year-old accused, Harnek Singh, died in police custody, three head constables of the Punjab Police were suspended on Wednesday. The three were booked on charges of murder on Tuesday. Further departmental inquiry has also been initiated.

Harnek, a resident of Bellumajra village of the district, died while being taken to the Ghagga police station for investigation in connection with a drug case. After his death, a case under Section 302 (murder) was registered against five persons including the three head constables, Gurmail Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Bhola Singh, all posted at Ghagga police station. All accused are at large and no arrest has been made so far.

Superintendent of police (SP) Harwinder Singh Virk said the accused were put on suspension after being booked and departmental inquiry has also been ordered against them and assured strict action against the absconding policemen.

Family and villagers held a protest that was lifted around 7pm after police officials reached the spot and assured agitators of a detailed investigation into the case.

“Magisterial probe was also held in the matter in which, the postmortem was conducted under the supervision of judicial magistrate by a board of doctors,” Virk said. He said the exact cause of the death will be ascertained only after the viscera report, “as whether the deceased collapsed due to cardiac arrest or was there use of force by the police team.”

When asked if any special investigation team has been constituted to look into the matter, the SP said the matter was under investigation and a fair probe would be carried out.

Meanwhile, Harnek’s family members recorded their statements before the police and alleged that Harnek was beaten up mercilessly by the cops, all in civvies, who reached their village in a private vehicle.

“Even while taking him to the police station, the cops kept thrashing him, despite being informed by us that Harnek was a heart patient,” Gurnam Singh, nephew of the deceased said.

Gurnam said his uncle had no track record of any drug smuggling and had a habit of only consuming poppy husk. “But the cops did not give any heed to our pleas and started accusing my uncle of selling poppy husk,” he said.

His family members alleged that after seeing villagers following their car, the cops accompanying the deceased fled the spot, leaving Harnek’s body in the vehicle.

Following the incident on Tuesday, family members and villagers held a protest that was lifted around 7pm on Tuesday after senior police officials reached the spot and assured the agitators of a detailed investigation into the case.

First Published: Jan 04, 2018 16:05 IST