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Most custodial deaths involve minorities: Bombay high court

Friday, 1 August 2014 - 6:10am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

"We want to do something to prevent this," says bench. Clubs all such cases

Death does ask for you caste, if it's happening in police custody.

The Bombay high court on Thursday made a startling observation that most custodial deaths in the state involved members from the minority community.

"We find that most of the cases of custodial deaths are against persons belonging to the minority community. We want to do something to prevent this," the court said.

A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice P D Kode made this observation while hearing a petition filed by the mother of a 23-year-old Sion resident, who claimed that her son had died under mysterious circumstances while in police custody in 2012.

Ansari said her son was arrested on February 21, 2012, for an alleged theft. From police custody, he was later sent to the Thane central prison. On March 24, 2012, he died there.

The police claim is that it was a natural death while the mother says it's mysterious. She prayed the high court for the transfer of investigation from the local police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"In this present case, the police have shown that the death is natural. We don't know how many such cases are there. We want to do something and thus we are clubbing all the cases," the bench said.

The court then appointed Advocate Dr Yug Choudhry as amicus curiae (court- appointed advocate) to represent petitioner Aliya Begum Ansari.

Accepting the appointment, Choudhry said: "I have researched and found that in most of the cases of custodial deaths, the victim is either a Muslim or Dalit."

Choudhry recently appeared for Leonard Valdaris, whose son, Agnelo, allegedly died in the custody of the Wadala Railway police. The probe in the case was recently transferred to the CBI.

National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2013 statistics 34 people died in police custody in Maharashtra. It was 20 in 2012.

The high court has adjourned the hearing on Ansari's case by two weeks.

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