A 45-year-old man, identified as B Murthy, from Belthur village was found dead in the bathroom of the Mandya West Police Station on Friday morning. His family alleges that he was tortured and starved before he was killed due to police brutality.
As the incident came to light, three police officers – sub-inspector Anand Kumar, head constable Madesh and lock-up in-charge Varadharaju – of the Mandya West Police Station were suspended pending inquiry.
Murthy was allegedly arrested by Anand Kumar on Monday night at a bar in Central Mandya region along with two others – Babu and Nagaraju — on the suspicion of bike theft.
Speaking to TNM, Nagaraju said that he and Babu were produced before the magistrate on Tuesday and were out on bail that very day, but Murthy was not produced in court.
“When they put us in the jail cell, the police beat us up brutally. They put the lathi under our legs and made us sit on it and hit us on the knee. This ensures that there are no marks on our bodies, but it hurts more than a punch. Murthy was in a pretty bad shape. They didn’t give us any food or water either,” Nagaraju said.
By Wednesday evening, news of Murthy’s arrest had spread to Belthur and his father-in-law Puttaramu, who went to Mandya West DySP Gangadhar to inquire about Murthy’s arrest.
“On Thursday, I went to the police station and asked the police if they had arrested my son-in-law and whether he was out on bail or not. The officers at the police station said that my son-in-law was not arrested at all. Then I went to DySP Gangadhar and he too said that Murthy was not arrested. So, I returned home,” Puttaramu said.
However, on Friday, Puttaramu received a call from the police station telling him that Murthy had committed suicide in the premises.
“Murthy was found hanging from a window grill in the bathroom, located behind the police station. We have asked the CID to conduct an investigation into the matter. The CID team will arrive on Monday and they will file an FIR then,” said Mandya SP G Radhika.
Following his death, Murthy’s kin and leaders from various Dalit organisations staged a protest outside the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences on Friday alleging that the police had beaten him to death.
According to the police, however, Murthy committed suicide at an under-construction bathroom in the backyard of the station around 5:30 am on Friday.
“According to available information, Murthy had cut a piece of blanket given to him and had hid it in his pocket. He insisted on using the bathroom outside. When he did not return after a few minutes, the police personnel went to check and found him hanging from the window grill. No external injuries were found on his body,” SP Radhika added.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has the sought details of the incident and the CID team will submit a report after taking over the case, police sources said.