Mumbai: ‘1.5 yrs later, we still don’t have son’s custodial death report’

On October 26, 2013, 20-year-old Aniket Khicchi was arrested in Goregaon by the Vanrai police. A day later, Khicchi, who was allegedly assaulted by police constables, succumbed to injuries sustained in police custody.

After nearly two months, in December 2013, police constables Chandrakant Rajaram Kamble, Umesh Gulabrao Gosavi, Sandeep Shankarrao Salunkhe and Kiran Dattatray Pingale – in whose custody Aniket was assaulted – were charged with murder and criminal conspiracy. The constables are currently lodged in Taloja jail.

But Sudheer and Bina Khicchi, Aniket’s parents who sell vegetables at Kurla, have no idea what led the constables to brutally assault and murder their son.

Sudeep Vishwakarma, the police inspector who was investigating the custodial death, said, “A case of robbery was registered against him after he was found picking up someone’s laptop at an exhibition at Goregaon Sports Complex and was taken to Vanrai police station.” Vishwakarma refused to comment on the circumstances of Aniket’s death, citing the case was still being heard in court.

Aniket’s parents approached the Bombay high court in July 2014, requesting that a special public prosecutor (SPP) be appointed and a judicial inquiry be conducted on their child’s death. In a bizarre response, the state government’s affidavit said: “A custodial death is not so publicly important for an SPP to be appointed, and if the victim’s father wishes to get one appointed by the state, he will have to deposit the fees of the SPP with the state government, and only then will the state appoint one.”

It was only after the Bombay high court issued a directive that an SPP was appointed. This also prompted the state to appoint a sub-divisional magistrate to inquire into Aniket’s death. But that has not ended the woes of the Khicchis, who have been running from pillar to post to get the magistrate’s report. Sudheer Khicchi said, “I have gone several times to the magistrate’s office and have even filed several RTIs to get a copy of the report. I was told the report has been sent to the collector’s office. When I went there, the staff told me it’s a 500-page report and denied me a copy.”

The report is important for Aniket’s parents, as it will not only help them find out the exact cause of their son’s death, but also allow them to claim compensation.