Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror
Senior officials said they will also investigate officers of the State CID and the Mumbai Crime Branch for their initial shoddy probe of the case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation late on Wednesday night filed an FIR against all policemen working in the Wadala railway police station for the alleged murder of detainee Agnelo Valdaris and sexual assault of a minor, among other charges.
This is also a rare case where alleged sexual assault perpetrated by policemen on detainees has been documented in detail in a First Information Report. While naming the 10 policemen identified by the victims, the specially constituted CBI team has also charged all the other personnel attached to the station.
The premier investigation agency has booked the policemen for murder, falsifying evidence, wrongful confinement, using force to get confession, kidnapping, unnatural sex. They have also been booked under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a minor.
The CBI action follows a strongly-worded high court order in a petition filed by Agnelo’s father Leonard Valdaris and his three friends who were also allegedly tortured in custody on the night of April 15 after they were picked up on suspicion of chain snatching.
Asenior CBI official told Mumbai Mirror that besides investigating the Wadala railway police, they will also investigate the State CID and Mumbai Crime Branch’s sloppy probe into the case. “We will not depend on witnesses who have already been examined. Our focus is to get to other witnesses who might be able to tell us everything in detail,” said a senior CBI official.
Agnelo died on April 18. While the police claimed he was run over by a train while he tried to escape from their custody, his father and friends alleged that he was tortured to death by the Wadala railway police.
While CBI officials remained tight-lipped about their future course of action, insiders said this was the “beginning of the end for the Wadala railway policemen.” A CBI source said the arrest of the policemen is imminent and may happen as soon as their statements are recorded.
The CBI took over the investigation on Tuesday after the Bombay High Court slammed the manner in which the State CID and the Mumbai Crime Branch were investigating the case.
“All circumstances clearly create a serious doubt in our mind about the transparency and fairness of the investigation carried out by the State CID or by the local police,” a division bench of VM Kanade and Pd Kode had said on June 17 after hearing how the local police had botched up the investigation over the last two months.
While Agnelo died on April 18, his friends – including a minor – who were let off on bail on April 22, filed a complaint with the director general of police and the railway police commission alleging that they were stripped, hung upside down, beaten with sticks and belts for three days by at least 12 policemen.
They alleged they were forced to drink their own urine and even forced to perform oral sex on each other. The trio said Agnelo had been beaten so badly that he was barely able to stand let alone run from the custody.
After the State CID initiated a custodial death probe as per procedure, the victims alleged the investigators were biased and were not recording their statements properly.
Meanwhile, Leonard, too, demanded that a case of murder and torture be registered against the policemen. In May, Leonard and the three victims approached the Bombay High Court through Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry. Initially, the court asked the Mumbai Crime Branch to take over the investigation. But days later, the judges expressed displeasure at the way even this agency was probing the case, before handing it to the CBI.