Custodial Deaths of Dalits and Muslims go Unchecked across the Nation Families demand justice and assert that their loved ones were victims of custodial deaths as more victims from marginalised communities die after facing custodial violence.

25, Jul 2023 | CJP Team

In a series of disturbing incidents, two individuals lost their lives in police custody, reminding us of the need for accountability from criminal justice departments. The cases have raised serious questions over the treatment of detainees and have sparked demands for a thorough investigation into these deaths from the family and loved ones of the deceased.

In the first incident, Saikul Khan, a 27-year-old recently married youth, was taken into custody by the police in Alwar, Rajasthan. On the 23rd of July, 2023, his family was informed by the police, and upon visiting him, they were met with the shocking discovery of his lifeless body. Saikul was a student preparing for government job exams with no criminal record according to his family.

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The family claims that he went missing at night, leaving them clueless about his whereabouts. After about 18 hours, the family received a call from the Cyber Crime cell, informing them that Saikul was involved in a cybercrime case and urging them to come to the police station.

Upon meeting him, the family was shocked to find Saikul gravely injured, and they allege that he had been tortured by the police while in custody. Saikul pleaded with his family members to take him away and prevent his return to custody. The family asserts that Saikul died while in police custody after they met him at the hospital, as reported by Bharat TV.

His loved ones also allege that he was subjected to torture while in custody, which resulted in severe injuries. The family is now seeking justice and demands for an impartial investigation into the events leading to his death rise.

In another heart-breaking incident in Chennai, Sridhar, a 25-year-old Dalit man, died shortly after being questioned by the MGR Nagar police. This marked the third such incident in Chennai in the past two years, further heightening concerns over the treatment of detainees in police custody.

According to the News Minute, Sridhar passed away only a few hours after being interrogated by the MGR Nagar police in Chennai on the 13th of July 2023. The police initially brought Sridhar in for questioning regarding a theft on 12th July, and requested him to return the following day. Accompanied by his wife, Manju, Sridhar went to the police station on 13th July and returned home around 1:15 pm. However, he soon complained of chest discomfort, and subsequently he was rushed to KK Nagar Government Hospital where he later succumbed to his death. Sridhar was a sanitation worker.

The report by News Minute also notes that Sridhar’s family members want answers about the circumstances surrounding his death and are eagerly waiting for the post-mortem report. The post-mortem was conducted at Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital and was completed on the 14th of July, 2023.

Meanwhile, the police have made a statement stating that Sridhar experienced seizures which was what led to his death. The police also said that Sridhar was brought to the ESI hospital but was already deceased when he suffered the seizures. His wife Manju has filed a police complaint and an investigation into Sridhar’s death is currently ongoing.

Adding to the grim toll of custodial deaths in India, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, witnessed the tragic loss of Mohammad Ashfaq Khan. The police deemed Ashfaq Khan suspicious only because he had a previous criminal record, according to his family. The neighbouring family who suspected him of stealing from them has been accused of assaulting him before the police took him into custody. Ashfaq’s family further claims that the police took him into custody without informing them and that he was already injured due to alleged beatings by the family members who suspected him of stealing.

The family further alleges that the police officials left him for dead at the hospital after subjecting him to torture during his detention. In response to mounting pressure, the police have promised an impartial investigation and vowed to take strict action against any officials found culpable, according to a news report by Johar News, Hazaribagh that surface on Twitter in 18th of July, 2023.

These incidents have once again reignited the debate surrounding police brutality and the need for systemic reforms to ensure the safety and fair treatment of detainees. According to a report by Sabrang India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported in the Rajya Sabha that there has been a significant increase in custodial deaths across the country. Over the past three years the number of deaths while in police custody has risen by more than 60%, and in the last two years, the increase has been even more alarming, reaching 75%.

The data has further highlighted specific states where such cases have seen a drastic rise. For instance, in Maharashtra the number of custodial deaths has increased by a staggering ten times, while Kerala and Bihar witnessed a threefold increase. In Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka the numbers have doubled, and have further raised serious concerns about the treatment of detainees in police custody.


Custodial deaths highest in Gujarat over 5 years; jails overcrowded

Death behind bars: Justice through the Indian Courts as cases spiral

Hyderabad: Muslim man allegedly subjected to custodial torture on “suspicion of theft” for 5 days, dies in hospital

UP: Dalit man allegedly maimed, his pregnant wife beaten by Caste Hindus in Etah


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