Kin, activists claim police beat NRI chef to death

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PANAJI - Civic activists and kin of a 39-year-old non-resident Indian (NRI) have demanded a judicial enquiry into his alleged custodial death Jan 8. Police have denied the charge and said an enquiry is on

Cosme Fernandes, a cousin of the deceased Cipriano Fernandes and Cipriano’s woman friend has accused several police officers of beating the chef, first in a police jeep Jan 7 and in police custody the next day, leading to his death.

“There should be a judicial probe into the custodial death of Cipriano. The police have been extremely callous in the manner. He was in the custody of the police for several hours during which he was beaten and not given any medical attention,” said Cosme, who is backed by a local civic rights group Utt Goenkara.

Cirpriano was a chef working on board an ocean-liner, a popular vocation for several hundred seafaring Goans.

Cosme has also accused the police of stealing credit cards and cash which was on Cipriano’s person, when he was picked by police. “He had severe swelling on his forehead and private parts due to the beating. There was also a gash on his finger,” Cosme said.

According to police records, Cipriano was picked up after he allegedly threatened his woman friend, who then complained to police. Speaking to reporters here, the woman has also backed up the demands made by Cipriano’s kin for a judicial enquiry.

“They started beating up Cipriano even as he was loaded in a police jeep. I had filed a complaint against him because he had threatened me, but I had never thought that he would die due to a police beating,” she said.

Jatin Naik, spokesperson for Utt Goenkara said that Cipriano was arrested under section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code on Jan 7 and was not even taken for the mandatory medical examination after arrest.

“In Goa, migrant labourers are often the victims of custodial deaths. This is a clear case of death in custody. The police officials namely Police Sub-Inspector Vijay Chodankar, Panaji police station incharge, Inspector Sandesh Chodankar and police constable Sandeep Shirvoikar must be suspended and a judicial enquiry initiated, Naik demanded.

Speaking to reporters, Superintendent of Police Arvind Gawas denied allegations against the policemen. “The death did not occur in police custody. A magisterial enquiry is in progress,” Gawas said.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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