The family of the 28-year-old man from Patidar community, who died under mysterious circumstances on Monday, refused to claim his body, even as a ‘bandh’ was observed today in several parts of north Gujarat over his death. The deceased Ketan Patel’s kin, who have alleged custodial torture by police, refused to take his body despite an assurance of fair probe given by the Gujarat government. Ketan’s father threatened to sit outside the Mehsana civil hospital until a case was registered against the policemen “who tortured and killed” his son. The ‘bandh’, called by several Patidar outfits, hit the daily life to a great extent in Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Patan and Banaskantha district. Unidentified persons torched a state transport bus near Visnagar town of Mehsana district, police said.
“The bus was set on fire by a mob on Visnagar-Kada road. No one was hurt in the incident,” an official of Mehsana police control room said. The Congress, which supported the bandh, as well as the Patidar bodies claimed that the bandh was a “success” as most business establishments and shops remained closed, particularly in Mehsana town and district. “Not just the Patel community, people from all walks of life supported the bandh call, which met with huge success. Congress also supported of the call,” Kirtisinh Zala, a local Congress leader said. Ketan, a resident of Balol village near Mehsana, was in judicial custody at Mehsana Sub-Jail since June 4 in a theft case. He died at the civil hospital on the night of June 5 within hours of admission.
Police had said that Ketan was arrested on June 3 after a shop owner in Balol village lodged a complaint stating that he stole around Rs 5,000 from his shop. Though police denied it was a case of custodial death, local Patel leaders and Ketan’s family members alleged that he died due to police torture when he was in their custody before being sent to jail by the court on June 4. A panel of three doctors that conducted primary post-mortem yesterday at Mehsana civil hospital, has stated in its report that at least 39 injury marks were found on Ketan’s body. As Mehsana remained the epicentre of the Patel quota stir in 2015, the state government yesterday announced that it has directed the local police to lodge an FIR in the case without any delay.
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Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had also said since Ketan was in judicial custody when he died, the Mehsana district and sessions court has directed the chief judicial magistrate to conduct an inquiry. “Our government will take strict action based on the findings of that report,” the deputy chief minister told media persons yesterday. However, Ketan’s father Mahendra Patel is not convinced with the government’s assurance and announced that he will not claim his son’s body till the police does not lodge an FIR against policemen on the charges of murder of his son. “I will sit outside civil hospital until police does not lodge an FIR against policemen under section 302 of IPC and arrest these policemen who had tortured and killed my son. I will not claim Ketan’s body till these policemen are not arrested and dismissed,” said Mahendra Patel.
Meanwhile, several leaders, including the president of Sardar Patel Group (SPG), Lalji Patel, and Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani rushed to express their solidarity with the family, who along with many others have gathered outside civil hospital here. Dhanani demanded that the post-mortem be conducted afresh. “Since there are many flaws in the post mortem conducted yesterday, I demand that a panel of three doctors, having two private doctors, must do re-post mortem,” Dhanani said. Additional District Collector, Ramesh Merja along with District SP Chaitanya Mandlik held a meeting with Ketan’s family and agreed to go for fresh post-mortem tomorrow. “We do not have any problem with the re-post mortem. It will be done tomorrow. Ketan’s kin can lodge their complaint after the new autopsy report comes,” Merja told reporters.