Police do not deny that it was a case of death in police custody, but say they exercised restraint

The death of a State committee member of the Students Federation of India (SFI), students’ wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), allegedly in police custody has created a stir here and raised fresh questions about police excesses in the State.

Sudipta Gupta, who completed his post-graduation from the Rabindra Bharati University earlier this year, was arrested when he was participating in a law violation programme organised by four Left students unions on Tuesday to protest the government’s move to put on hold students union elections.

Mr. Gupta died of his injuries in the State-run SSKM hospital on Tuesday evening.

Even as senior CPI (M) leaders and SFI leadership alleged that he died after he was beaten up and pushed by the police from the vehicle taking the arrested students to a city correctional home, the police maintained that he died of the injuries he sustained after hitting a lamp post. However, they did not deny that it was a case of death in police custody. Jawed Shamin, Joint Commissioner (Headquarters) of police, admitted that there was an altercation between the arrested students and the policemen accompanying them in the vehicle, prior to Mr. Gupta suffering severe head injuries when he collided with a lamppost near the Presidency Central Correctional Home.

The police had exercised restraint and they resorted to the standard procedure of taking those arrested to the correctional home in a bus, he said.

Senior CPI(M) leader and secretary of the party’s South 24 Parganas district committee Sujan Chakraborty, however, alleged that the student died after he was beaten up the police and was pushed out of the bus.

Describing the incident as “brutal and inhuman,” he said seven students were injured in the incident.

“The incident occurred when he [Mr. Gupta] was in police custody. Whatever the police may say, they cannot evade their responsibility in his death,” SFI’s all-India general secretary Ritabrata Banerjee said.

SFI leaders also alleged the student lay unattended for over half-an-hour at the hospital. Denying the allegation, superintendent of the SSKM Hospital Tamal Kanti Ghosh said the hospital authorities did all they could and the student was immediately transferred to the critical care unit. There were signs of poly trauma with facial injuries and injuries on the head, he said adding that the exact reasons of the death could be ascertained only after a post-mortem.