UP: Cop acquitted in 2016 custodial death case as witnesses retract

“Additional District and Session Judge Amit Malaviya acquitted Sunny [on Wednesday] since witnesses in the case turned hostile. They did not support the police story,” government counsel Nahar Singh said on Friday.

A court in Moradabad has acquitted a 37-year-old police constable in a custodial death case after witnesses in the case turned hostile. Sunny Tomar had been in prison since 2017 when he was taken into custody for the death of a young man arrested the year before under the Arms Act.

“Additional District and Session Judge Amit Malaviya acquitted Sunny [on Wednesday] since witnesses in the case turned hostile. They did not support the police story,” government counsel Nahar Singh said on Friday.

During the trial, the court examined 30 prosecution witnesses, including the family members of deceased Rafikul Hasan. However, Hasan’s brother, father, sister, maternal aunt and maternal uncle were declared hostile, said defence lawyer Anuj Kumar Bishnoi. Following the court’s directive, Tomar was released from jail, Bishnoi added.

Bishnoi said Hasan’s elder brother Kamrul had filed a complaint against 13 policemen in September 2016 at Hazarat Nagar Garhi police station for allegedly beating Rafikul alias Shablu to death in police custody. Kamrul alleged that his brother and other family members had gone to the house of their maternal uncle Mohammad Ahmed and his wife Afsa Khatoon to attend a function where a police team arrived and forcibly took Rafikul away in connection with an Arms Act case. The police had allegedly found a weapon in his possession during a checking drive.

Kamrul claimed that when his father Merajul Hasan and sister Shahana Khatoon visited the station, they saw policemen beating Rafikul. When Kamrul later visited the station, the policemen told him his brother had died.

In an FIR, 13 policemen, including the then Hazarat Nagar Garhi station officer, were charged with murder. During the investigation, the police found that Rafikul died after an accidental fall while being taken to a local court.

According to police, Sunny Tomar and Himanshu Tomar, another constable, were assigned to take Rafikul to court in a police vehicle. Himanshu Tomar is still absconding. Anuj Kumar Bishnoi said Himanshu’s properties were attached following a directive from the court.

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