In-custody death of a Dalit youth in Kailali sparks protests
The 19-year-old, who was arrested on September 7 on charge of stealing a mobile phone, had died in police custody on Friday morning.
The relatives of the victim protest in Dhangadi on Sunday. Arjun Shah/TKP
Nineteen-year-old Roshan BK, a resident of Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City Ward 5, died in police custody on Friday. The police claim Roshan, who was arrested on the charge of stealing a mobile phone on September 7, died by suicide. The family of the deceased, however, allege that the police had tortured the teenager in their custody.
On Sunday, the family and relatives of the deceased organised a sit-in in front of the District Police Office demanding justice for the death in police custody.
Protests and demonstrations were organised in Dhangadhi on Saturday too.
“At around 9:30 am on Friday, the police told us that my son had passed away,” said Tek Bahadur BK, Roshan’s father. “They told us he died by suicide but we don’t believe their claim.”
Roshan’s brother, Rabi BK, says there were injury marks on Roshan’s body. This led his family to believe that Roshan had been tortured by police. “My brother had injuries on his forehead and neck, and his nose bled,” said Rabi. “The injuries indicate that he was physically harmed.”
Sushila Mishra Bhatta, the deputy mayor of the sub-metropolis who had reached the district police office along with Roshan’s family members on Friday, has accused the police of assaulting Roshan in custody. “Rohit BK, another suspect in the theft, was also arrested. According to him, police had beaten Roshan up the day before his death.”
[Editorial: Ensure safer custody]
The body was handed over to the family on Friday and his funeral rites were performed on Saturday.
Police have refuted all allegations of torture made by Roshan’s family.
“Roshan was found hanging from the ventilation outlet in the bathroom on Friday morning,” said Superintendent Anup Sumsher JBR of Kailali District Police Office. “Fourteen inmates who were kept in the same cell are witnesses to the incident.”
He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, JBR said.
“More details can be revealed only after the post-mortem report arrives,” he said.
The Sudurpaschim State Police Office on Friday formed a four-member committee led by Superintendent Rajib Basnet to investigate the incident. The committee has five days to submit its report.
“The committee has started the investigation from Sunday,” said Senior Superintendent Mukesh Singh of the Sudurpaschim State Police Office.
A team from the National Human Rights Commission and the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) visited the prison on Saturday and collected information.
“The nature and cause of Roshan’s death will be revealed only after the detailed investigation concludes,” said Jhankar Rawal, director of the Sudurpaschim Office of the National Human Rights Commission. “Death in police custody is a serious incident and we are completely focussed on this case.”