Shibu Thomas, Nitasha Natu & Vijay V Singh,TNN | Jun 28, 2014,

Custodial death: CBI books 10 police officials
Agnello Valdaris allegedly died when cops at Wadala railway police station mercilessly beat him up in their custody.
MUMBAI: The CBI has registered an FIR against 10 Wadala railway police officials and charged them with offences that could attract the capital punishment in a custodial death case, but arrests are not imminent.”We will make arrests only after a detailed inquiry and examining the collected evidence,” said a CBI officer. “All the accused are government servants so there is a rare possibility that they will attempt to escape.”

Following a Bombay high court order, the CBI filed the FIR on Wednesday night after recording the statements of complainant Leonard Valdaris, father of Agnello Valdaris who was killed on April 18 while in the custody of the Wadala GRP, and of the prime witnesses, including two persons and a minor who were arrested along with Agnello and claim to be witness to torture in custody.

The FIR has named 10 personnel of the Wadala GRP as perpetrators. They include the then in-charge of the Wadala GRP outpost, Jitendra Rathod, a woman officer, A M Pujari, and sub-inspector Tondse, head constable Mane and constables Kamble, Pathan, Mane, Suryavanshi, Ganya and Satish.

Leonard Valdaris, vivtim Agnello Valdaris’s father. (TOI photo by Shriram Vernekar)

Senior GRP officials said the tainted personnel have been shunted out of the force.

Among the charges applied against them by the CBI are murder, assault, unnatural sex, criminal intimidation, kidnapping, wrongful confinement and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. If convicted, the officials could be sentenced to life imprisonment or the death penalty.

A source said the CBI’s next step is likely to be to record the statements of the other officials at the Wadala GRP station. The Wadala GRP currently has a working strength of around 140 personnel.

Agnello’s family is relieved the CBI is probing the case. “We are expecting an impartial and professional probe,” said Leonard, who has largely fought a lone battle for justice.

The Bombay HC had ordered exhumation of Agnello’s body and the medical report could form part of the evidence. Two other documents are important — a fax sent by Leonard to the commissioner’s office could point to illegal detention, and a reply to an RTI application by Sion hospital that Agnello had complained to the doctors when he was brought for a medical check-up that he was assaulted by the police.

The most crucial piece of evidence that the family is demanding is the CCTV footage from Wadala and Reay Road stations. Since the police stations are on the station premises, advocate Yug Chaudhry, counsel for the Valdaris family, said it could reveal that Agnello and the three others were illegally detained by the police. The railways claims the footage has been destroyed, but the family is hoping the CBI will be able to retrieve it.

“The GRP has been harping on the point that they arrested Agnello on April 17. But the footage (at Wadala station) would have shown railway cops taking me, my younger son Reagan, and three of Agnello’s co-accused to their chowky for inquiries on the night of April 15,” Leonard told TOI.

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