Durgapur, Sept. 5: A member of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, arrested for his suspected Maoist links, hanged himself in a Bankura court lock-up today.
Thirty-year-old Shibu Pratihar, who was the president of the committee in Sarenga, was arrested on August 29 from his Makarkol house. Shibu was brought to the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court in Khatra, about 260km from Calcutta, around 10am today from the nearby Sarenga police station.
He was taken in a prison van and escorted by five armed policemen, one of them an assistant sub-inspector. He was kept in a lock-up on the ground floor in the court.
Shibu sought permission from the guards outside to go to the toilet, which is attached to the lock-up. A policeman took off his handcuffs and escorted him to the toilet. When Shibu entered, the cop locked the door from outside. Shibu locked the door from inside.
“Our men became suspicious after hearing water flowing from the tap inside for about 15 minutes. When they knocked, there was no response. They broke the door open and found Shibu hanging from the exhaust fan. The lungi he had been wearing was tied round his neck. He was rushed to the Khatra subdivisional hospital where he was declared dead on arrival,” said a police officer.
This was the first suicide by a member of the people’s committee, which spearheaded the Lalgarh protests, in police custody. The police are also looking for Shibu’s father Gopal as he too is alleged to have Maoist links. Maoist leader Bikash said Shibu was murdered and was a victim of a conspiracy by the police and the CPM.
September 6 , 2009 | The Telegraph