Santosh Desai, Anand Gaikwad, Digambar Chavan and Ankush Palve were remanded on Thursday to police custody till September 15.
It is only because of the PIL filed in the HC, and the HC-ordered inquiry, that this case of police brutality and cover-up came to light. Prosecution should be swift in this case in order to establish accountability and if any other cops are found to have assisted the four accused policemen in covering up the sordid crime, they must be prosecuted as well.
They were booked under IPC sections for murder and rioting.
The SIT, formed by Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh on August 18, was under the supervision of Sakinaka ACP Milind Khetle based on an order by Bombay high court to probe the murder of Raju Devendra (22). The four tried to show it as a case of mob lynching after he tried to enter a house to commit a theft.
“CCTV footage did not show mob lynching. The four thrashed Devendra, based on which they were arrested for murder and rioting,” Khetle told TOI.
A PIL was filed by advocate Firdause Irani through advocate Bahraiz Irani, seeking HC’s urgent intervention because of alleged police brutality in enforcing lockdown. The HC pulled up the cops on July 3 and told them to reply. A police officer said an internal inquiry revealed the four assaulted Devendra after he was found outdoors during lockdown. Devendra was subsequently found dead.
The probe report submitted to court showed the involvement of the four.
Devendra’s elder brother Manikam told TOI, “My brother Raju stepped out with elder brother Shankar to buy milk around 3.30pm. Four policemen stopped them, and after questioning them, assaulted him. We got a call around 4.30am that they caught him. At 8.30am, a cop told us they had found Raju drunk and he was unconscious. We rushed him to Cooper hospital, where we learnt he had multiple internal injuries. My brother Shankar narrated the actual incident but Juhu police filed a fake case and tried to save the cops.”
Juhu police filed a report in the first week of July maintaining that on the intervening night of March 29-30, Devendra was spotted by locals while allegedly trying to enter a house near Mutthi Swami Chawl in Vile Parle, after he was caught stealing. Police on duty rushed to rescue him, it said. Devendra escaped and rushed home. He was taken to Cooper hospital by his brother and mother, where he died at 4am, it added. Devendra’s family said Shankar was the prime witness.
The SIT found the four policemen assaulted Devendra after he was found outdoors during lockdown. Devendra was subsequently found dead. The probe found that Juhu police filed the case showing Devendra attempted to flee by climbing a roof but slipped and fell on the ground. A mob chased him to an open space and beat him up, which led to him losing consciousness, it said. A police patrol van later took him to Cooper hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival, it had said.