Twelve policemen were suspended after a 26-year-old Dalit man, Kamal Valmiki, died in police custody on Thursday afternoon under suspicious circumstances at the Ahirwan Police Station in Kanpur. His body was reportedly found hanging in the lock-up.
Valmiki, a resident of Shiv Katra village in Kanpur, was arrested along with another man named Raju Mistri in a case of loot. Mistri's family was called to identify the body, following which Valmiki's family claimed it.
Valmiki's family filed an FIR against the station in charge and other police personnel for beating him to death. However, the police claimed that he had committed suicide. His body was then sent for post mortem.
"Twelve police personnel, including the station in charge Yogendra Singh, have been suspended and strict action will be taken against them if found guilty," Mathura's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Shalabh Mathur told Press Trust of India (PTI).
Meanwhile, a search is underway to locate Mistri who has gone missing.
A large group of protesters, including members of the Valmiki community, blocked the Kanpur-Lucknow highway where they clashed with the police and threw stones at them. Senior police officials then reached the spot to control the situation.
"I only want my other sons to be safe. We are poor. How can we take on the might of the police?" Valmiki's father Kishan Valmiki was quoted by NDTV as saying.
Questions are being raised as to how a man was able to commit suicide in the presence of so many policemen and that how he found a rope to hang himself.