Posted On October 22, 2021

The state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of deceased Arun Valmiki, and five police personnel have been suspended.

Last evening Arun Valmiki, a sanitation worker who died in police custody in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, was cremated in the presence of his family members and police. According to Muniraj G, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Agra, the post mortem report shows that 34-year-old Arun died due to a heart attack. He has left behind a wife and a 10-month-old daughter. He was a sanitation worker at the police station.

Following the uproar over the death of the Dalit (scheduled caste) man, the Uttar Pradesh government yesterday, October 20, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased who lived with his young family in Loha Mandi in Agra. The state police department has reportedly also suspended five policemen.

“Apart from Rs 10 lakh compensation, one member of his family will also be given the job of a sanitation worker. The members of the deceased’s family are satisfied with the police investigation,” said Muniraj.

Narrating the sequence of the events, the SSP said that on October 17 masked thieves made away with Rs 25 lakh from the Tajpura police station in Agra. A case was registered under IPC section 362/21 and 457/380 and, late on October 19, suspects were rounded up and brought to the police station for questioning, of which Arun Valmiki was one.

According to the police, Arun confessed to having Rs 15 Lakh in his home and when they went there with him, on October 20, they found the money there. It was then that the sanitation worker suddenly became ill and was admitted to the hospital where he subsequently died.

Anand Shahi, station house officer; Yogendra, sub-inspector; and constables Satyam, Rupesh, and Mahendra have been suspended over the custodial death.  

Since the sanitation worker’s death, there has been an outrage in the Dalit community in Agra and the administration in a precautionary measure had cordonned off  the Tajpura thana area.

Gaon Connection spoke with Bunty, Arun’s brother, who said: “The police came home with Arun at about 3.30 pm (on October 20) to conduct a search. They found fifteen lakh rupees in the house. Seeing it, Arun suddenly became ill.” Thereafter, we accompanied the police and Arun to the Jeevan Jyoti hospital to admit him, but he died during treatment the same day, Bunty added.

Arun’s family allege that he lost his life because of police brutality.

According to Bunty, the police had earlier taken some people from Taj Ganj into custody for poochtaach and had also directed people to inform them about Arun’s whereabouts. Some people informed the police about Arun and they took him in.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi interacting with the family members of the deceased sanitation worker.

Sonu, another brother of the deceased, while speaking to the media, said the family has demanded the authorities pay a compensation of two crore rupees (Rs 20 million) and provide a government job to one of the family members. 

In response to a question in the Lok Sabha in July 2021, Nityanand Rai, Union Minister of State for Home, had said that Uttar Pradesh was on top of the board when it came to custodial deaths. He quoted from the figures from the National Human Rights Commission.

In 2018 -19, there were 12 deaths in police custody and 452 deaths in judicial custody in Uttar Pradesh. Next year, in 2019-20, there were three deaths in police custody and 400 in judicial custody.

The numbers further rose in 2020-21, when eight people died in police custody while 443 died in judicial custody. In the last three years, the minister said, this was the highest number of police and judicial custodial deaths recorded in the country. Of the 5,569 police and judicial custody deaths country-wide in the last three years  (2018-21), 1,318 were in Uttar Pradesh.

Arun Valmiki’s death has turned political too. Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the All India Congress Committee handling Uttar Pradesh, was earlier prevented from meeting the family of the deceased Arun Valmiki.  She tweeted that the government “out of fear” had not allowed her to meet the family.

Late last night, after the sanitation worker was cremated, Priyanka Gandhi was allowed to meet the family of Arun Valmiki in Agra. Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader and former chief minister demanded that strict action be taken against police brutality in the state.

Courtesy : Gaon Connection