- Congress demands CBI probe into Dalit’s lockup death
The Congress party on Thursday demanded CBI enquiry into the custodial death of Srilam Rangaiah, a Dalit, who was killed allegedly due to police torture.
In an open letter to Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President & MP Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, CLP leader Bhatti Vikramarka, MLA D. Sridhar Babu, ex-Deputy CM Damodar Rajanarasimha and SC Cell Chairman Pritam, said that the circumstantial evidence clearly shows that Rangaiah died in mysterious circumstances allegedly due to third-degree torture by the police.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said Srilam Rangaiah, a resident of Ramayyapalli village in Ramgiri mandal of Peddapalli falling in Manthani Assembly constituency, was arrested by the police on May 24 under Wildlife Protection Act. He was also booked under the PD Act. On May 26, he was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Manthani Police Station toilet. “Rangaiah was allegedly subjected to third-degree torture in the police custody which consequently resulted in his death,” he alleged.
The TPCC chief said Rangaiah was arrested on some charges under Wildlife Protection Act. However, the Manthani police have displayed over-action and brutally tortured him. He said as per FIR No. 127, Rangaiah was arrested on May 24 and was remanded to judicial custody on the same day. In that case, he asked as to how his body was found in the police station’s premises on May 26. Therefore, he said that there were huge suspicions on the veracity of details furnished in the FIR. He said police should’ve taken action as per the law if Rangaiah was involved in some offences. However, instead of initiating legal proceedings, the Manthani Police allegedly tortured him brutally which led to his death.
Further, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the body was taken to a hospital and post-mortem was conducted in a haste. He said as per religious rituals, Rangaiah was to be buried. However, the police forcibly cremated the body so as to wipe out the evidence of torture. The haste with which post-mortem was conducted and the cremation of the body by going against the rituals strengthens the suspicion that Rangaiah was killed in the lockup, he said.
The TPCC Chief alleged that the family members of Rangaiah were now being threatened by the police to hush up the case. “Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Rao often talks of ‘friendly policing’. But the behaviour of police personnel on the field is completely against it,” he alleged.
He pointed out that in the past another Dalit youth Madhukar had also died under suspicious circumstances. He said the probe into his death was not yet completed. He said there were at least 10 lock-up deaths across the State ever since the formation of Telangana in 2014. However, no action was taken against the police personnel responsible for such deaths. He said even after 15 days, the State Government did not take any action in the case of custodial death of Rangaiah.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against Rangaiah’s death, the High Court has directed appointment of Hyderabad City Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar as Enquiry Officer to probe into the incident. He said a police officer could not be expected to investigate the charges against the personnel of his own force in a non-partisan manner. Therefore, he said that the Congress leaders have urged the Governor to intervene into the matter and order a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident.
Further, the Congress leaders demanded payment of Rs. 50 lakh as compensation to the family of Rangaiah and stern action against those involved in the incident.