Raipur: The death of a junior engineer (JE) of the Chhattisgarh government’s power department has raised allegations of custodial torture by the police. The death of the junior engineer JE Punam Singh Katlam (44) occurred in Surajpur district. The official was one of the suspects in a murder case.
Family members of the Katlam alleged he died early Tuesday after police personnel thrashed him the previous day. However, local police have denied the allegations. They said the death was due to a cardiac arrest.
“The deceased Katlam was posted at power sub-station in Karwa village. He was one of the suspects in the murder of one Harishchand Rajwade (24),” Surajpur SP Rajesh Kukreja told reporters Wednesday.
The police November 23 morning had recovered the body of Rajwade lying in front of the power sub-station located under Latori police outpost, and launched probe, Kukreja informed.
“The investigation revealed that Rajwade was a friend of Vijay Kumar Vishwakarma, an employee of the power sub-station. They used to consume liquor with Katlam frequently. Rajwade was seen entering the sub-station November 22 late evening,” the SP said.
Vishwakarma denied any role in Rajwade’s alleged murder during questioning, he said. Katlam was interrogated at around 3.45pm at his work place (Monday) during which he complained of breathlessness and anxiety, following which police personnel shifted him to a Primary Health Centre, Kukreja informed.
He said Vishwakarma ‘confessed’ during questioning that he, Katlam and two others had beaten Rajwade with a wooden stick following a fight, leading to his death. Vishwakarma, Sanjay Kumar and Sanjay Dubey were arrested while Katlam was admitted at the hospital, stated Kukreja. He died of a cardiac arrest at 4.00am Tuesday when he had gone to the washroom along with a man, the SP added.
However, Katlam’s brother Deepak has alleged that police had taken the former into their custody and thrashed him. “The injury marks on my brother’s body suggest that he was brutally thrashed by police. I got to know from locals that he was taken into police custody,” claimed Deepak, demanding a high-level probe into the incident.
However, the SP refuted the allegations. He said the police had requested for a judicial enquiry into the matter. Ten policemen who were posted at Latori outpost have been shifted to Surajpur Police Lines, he added.