A Dalit man died in police custody on Tuesday late night in Prakasam district after he was detained by the police allegedly for not wearing a face mask while riding on a motorcycle.
The deceased Yericharla Kiran was undergoing treatment for a head injury in Guntur. However, he succumbed to his injuries.
On July 18, Kiran was detained by the police for not wearing a mask and helmet in a COVID-19 hotspot of Chirala town in Prakasam district. According to police, Kiran and his friend Shini Abraham were moving on a motorcycle without masks and a constable Rami Reddy at Kothapeta check-post reprimanded them. Police allegedly found that the duo were in an inebriated condition. Police in a press note said that the duo created a ruckus and allegedly beat up the constable following which Sub-Inspector (SI) Vijay Kumar took them into custody.
Police claim that Kiran jumped out of the moving police vehicle while being taken to the II Town police station, resulting in a head injury. The family members of the deceased allege that the police hit him on his head causing the fatal injury.
Police said that Kiran was first shifted to the Chirala Government hospital and later to a private hospital in Guntur for better treatment.
The incident has caused a furore in the state over repeated police violence against Dalits in the past two days.
TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh, slamming the YSRCP government said, “Don’t Dalits have a right to live under Jagan’s regime?” Pointing out the cases of Varaprasad and Kiran, he said, “To gain the appreciation of the ruling party leaders, police had tortured Varaprasad and now a Dalit youth Kiran Kumar in Prakasam district died due to police assault. Is there law and order in this state? The police who ought to protect the citizens have turned into lackeys of the ruling party and are attacking the Dalits like goondas.”
Varaprasad, a Dalit man was tonsured and humiliated by the SI in Seethanagaram police in East Godavari district, allegedly at the behest of the local YSRCP leaders, over a feud involving a sand lorry.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, tension prevailed in Thomaspeta area of Chirala following Kiran’s death. Police deployed additional forces to prevent any untoward incident.
Kiran’s father Mohan filed a complaint against SI Vijay Kumar following which he was booked under IPC Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means).
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy initiated an inquiry into the incident and announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family.
The inquiry would be led by Additional Superintendent of Police Gangadhar. Prakasam District Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal handed over the case to Darsi Deputy Superintendent of Police for an impartial probe.