New Delhi: On 12 November, Jitendra Srivastav alias Kallu was brought in for questioning at Kalyanpur police station in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, after his neighbour Y.S. Dixit accused him of stealing Rs 20 lakh. Shortly after his visit to the station, Kallu complained of a stomach ache and, on the evening of 15 November, he died on the way to hospital.
Soon afterwards, news reports quoted Kallu’s family members as alleging that his death had been caused due to police brutality. Images of the man’s dead body, with bluish marks visible on his back, were also shared widely on social media.
Meanwhile, an FIR in connection to Kallu’s death was lodged against Dixit under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).
Following the autopsy, however, police have said that Kallu died due to “natural” causes, possibly precipitated by his alleged alcoholism. They also released Dixit, who had been detained for interrogation following the FIR.
Speaking to ThePrint, Kallu’s sister Poonam said he had denied suffering any brutality at the hands of police, but added that his health deteriorated at the station. The family says it saw the “livid marks” on 16 September, after the body was kept at their house overnight.
The family, Poonam said, wants punishment for Dixit — as it “was because of him that Kallu couldn’t come home or get proper care” — and “anyone else responsible” for her brother’s death.
The circumstances of death
Kallu, who worked as a security guard in Daman but was home for the festive season, was taken to the police station around 1.30 pm on 12 November and remained there for several hours, Poonam said.
“We went to pick him up around 10 pm. When we met him, he complained of stomach ache and kept repeating he was scared about Dixit doing something to him,” she said.
According to Poonam, Kallu informed the family that police had told him not to go home for his own “safety” and that Dixit — with whom the family has a history of discord — might lodge another case against him.
Kallu was then sent by his family to a nearby hotel, where his physical health allegedly continued to deteriorate, his sister said.
On 14 November, according to Kallu’s family and police, he was taken to see a doctor, Vinod Tripathi, who asked him to visit a specialist and get an ultrasound done.
In a statement accessed by ThePrint, the doctor said that Kallu’s stomach was “swollen” and that he had told him his consumption of alcohol had increased after Diwali. “The doctor gave him some medicines and told us to go to a bigger hospital,” Poonam said.
The next day, Kallu died on the way to the hospital. When asked if the family had noticed any injuries on his body at the time, Poonam answered in the negative.
“We asked him if police had beaten him up, and he said no. There were no injuries on his body. We saw those marks only after the media reached on 16 November. The body was in the house overnight,” she said.
What the autopsy report says
ThePrint has accessed the report of Kallu’s post-mortem examination, which was conducted on 16 November. The report states the immediate cause of death as “shock” due to “perforation and peritonitis”.
“Perforation” refers to a hole in the wall of a body organ. Peritonitis is described as “a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the tissue (peritoneum) that lines your belly or abdomen”. Infection from end-stage liver disease, for which heavy alcohol use is a risk factor, is among the identified causes of peritonitis.
The report also mentions “no abnormalities detected” in terms of antemortem injuries.
Under external general appearances, the report says, “multiple dark reddish patches present over back, on dissection no collection of blood seen. Abdomen distended”.
Asim Arun, Commissioner of Police, Kanpur Nagar, told ThePrint that there was no foul play involved.
“If a person has problems in the liver, often due to consumption of liquor, it leads to peritonitis. The contents of the intestine ooze out into the abdominal cavity. In a nutshell, the doctors have confirmed this is a natural death,” he said. Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) BBGTS Murthy reiterated this, adding that the autopsy had been recorded on video.
A senior police officer on the condition of anonymity said Kallu’s death was due to alcoholism.
“Police have spoken to the team of doctors. He hadn’t taken treatment for a long time which resulted in perforation of the intestine,” he said.
According to forensic experts, the marks on Kallu’s back were attributable to “postmortem hypostasis”, also known as postmortem staining.
Former AIIMS director and forensic medicine expert Dr T.D. Dogra told ThePrint that this is a normal change that occurs in dead bodies.
“The blood gravitates into the most dependent part of the body [like the back] and collects there. A lot of times, this is interpreted as ‘injury’,” he said. Another senior forensic doctor who didn’t wish to be named said these marks occur on the back after four to six hours of death when the body is lying on a surface.
Based on the findings of Kallu’s autopsy, Dr Dogra said the “perforation” may refer to a hole in the intestine. “The reasons can be multiple — traumatic (injuries like with a knife), spontaneous, underlying health conditions (ulceration). Shock refers to circulatory failure.”
Family still has questions
ThePrint asked Poonam whether the family believes Kallu was subjected to custodial torture.
“He didn’t say he was beaten up by police. Just that he was scared. We have lost our brother. We want justice, Dixit should be punished, and anyone else who is responsible should also be held accountable.”
According to her, Kallu was not able to “come home or get proper care” because of Dixit.
She said the family’s dispute with Dixit started last year. “We didn’t have a bathroom/toilet inside our house. When we would go to the one outside, Dixit would take videos and photographs and tease us,” she said.
A senior police officer privy to the case said that investigations into the family’s allegations are on.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)