A 15-year-old boy’s family has alleged that he was beaten to death inside a police station in Birbhum district in south Bengal on Thursday night. The police, however, said that the boy died by suicide.
Since Friday morning, irate villagers clashed with police and blocked the National Highway by placing burnt tyres on road. The protesters also hurled projectiles, like bricks, at the police personnel when they went to disperse the crowd. The police had to resort to lathi charge.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called a 12-hour-bandh in Mallarpur on Saturday, alleging that the boy was beaten to death because his parents were BJP supporters.
“A 15-year-old boy died inside the police station. He was arrested following all norms and brought to the police station on Thursday. At night he went to the toilet and killed himself. We have ordered a magisterial probe and a post-mortem by a three-member medical panel following guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission,” said Shyam Singh, superintendent of police of Birbhum district.
The victim’s parents and villagers, however, alleged that the boy was picked up at least three days ago and was never produced in the court.
“He was arrested for stealing a neighbour’s mobile phone at least three days ago. When I went to the police station, they told me that my son would be released soon. But now he has been beaten to death. He was not produced in court nor sent to any home,” said the victim’s father.
Even though initially the protest was started by local villagers, BJP workers joined the protest.
“How can a minor kill himself in the police station when everything, such as a towel and even the sacred thread, is taken away in police lockup? He was treated like this because his family members were BJP supporters,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of West Bengal BJP unit.
BJP workers are likely to bring out rallies in Mallarpur and even gherao the police station, where the boy was found dead, on Saturday.
“I am going to Mallarpur. We will gherao the police station and observe a 12-hour bandh. If necessary, we will go for a statewide bandh. His parents have been picked up by the police too and we don’t know where they are. We want a murder case to be initiated against the officer-in-charge. Why was he kept in the police station for three days? We will see the end of it,” said Saumitra Khan, BJP MP and president of the party’s youth wing in West Bengal.
The ruling Trinamool Congress has denied the allegations, saying that BJP is politicising the issue.
“They (BJP) play politics with every death. We all want a proper investigation and the truth to come out. But the BJP just wants to raise allegations against the TMC and the state administration,” said Avijit Singha, vice president of TMC in Birbhum district.