Daily wager in UP's Rampur dies after villagers assault him over carrying out disinfection work; police files FIR, but leaves out murder charge
A daily wager, Kunwar Pal, was assaulted by five individuals when he was spraying disinfectant at Pempur village of Rampur in UP.
“Sab bik chuke hain (Everyone has sold their integrity),” was Harishankar’s response when this reporter informed him about his brother’s postmortem report. Harishankar's brother Kunwar Pal was assaulted by five individuals when he was spraying disinfectant at Pempur village of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. He died three days after this incident.
Arun Kumar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Rampur, in whose precinct the FIR is registered told Firstpost that the cause of death of Kunwar Pal couldn’t be ascertained. “There are no injuries on the body, and the cause of death couldn’t be established,” said Kumar.
Kunwar Pal, 20, was a daily wager from Motiyapur village in Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh. He was regularly employed in various forms of work, including regular sanitation work in and around his village. On 14 April, he was allotted work by gram panchayat authorities to spray disinfectant in Pempur village. He started this work at 7 am. After a few hours, as he was spraying disinfectant, he reached the residence of Indrapal. As he was spraying disinfectant outside Indrapal’s house, Indrapal emerged from his house. Unknowingly, Kunwar sprayed a few drops of disinfectant on Indrapal’s feet, as he was in the path of the spray. Indrapal immediately physically assaulted Kunwar. Not stopping there, with the help of four friends, Indrapal inserted the pipe of the sanitising machine in Kunwar’s mouth and forcibly made him ingest the disinfectant. After this, Indrapal and his friends continued to assault Kunwar, who made a run for his life.
In a subconscious state, Kunwar made his way back to his village, where he passed out after reaching his home. He was rushed to a local doctor, but due to his deteriorating situation, the doctor advised his family to take him to Bisalpur Hospital. From there, he was shifted to TMU Medical College in Moradabad. He was in the ICU till 17 April, where he breathed his last.
An incident of such nature qualifies to be a medico-legal case. This means, as soon as the hospital admitted Kunwar, they should’ve informed the local police station about the admission, as is the procedure. Till Kunwar died, the police had not registered an FIR or taken cognisance of the assault. Kunwar’s family is unaware if the police had prior information of the assault and the hospital refused to answer if or not they've followed procedure. While Harishankar was in the hospital, he could neither communicate with his family nor could he leave the hospital, as a strict lockdown was in place. “My parents are old and were home. None of us could approach the police till I was allowed to leave the hospital, after the death of my brother,” says Harishankar.
Kunwar’s family approached the police station after his death only to find the police reluctant to cooperate. After pressure from the family and the local media, the Bota Police Station registered an FIR, invoking Sections 147, 323 and 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Not a single individual has been arrested, nor does the FIR have all the names of the people who attacked Kunwar.
As far as the sections in the FIR go, Section 147 is the offense related to rioting, Section 323 for voluntarily causing hurt and Section 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Why didn’t the offences committed, leading to the death of Kunwar, attract Section 302?
In the context of this case, it is crucial to understand the difference between Section 302 and Section 304 of the IPC. The difference between the two provisions is in the intention. When the offence committed is done with the explicit intention to kill, it qualifies as a murder under Section 300 of the IPC and is punishable under Section 302. In instances where the offence is committed owing to grave or sudden provocation, the offence committed qualifies as an exception to Section 300. These exceptions are punishable under Section 304 of the Code. Section 304 deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
In the instant case, the police have charged the offenders with Section 304 in order to classify Kunwar’s accidental spraying of disinfectant on Inderpal’s feet as sudden and grave provocation. This is highly questionable.
When the same question was posed to Additional SP Arun Kumar, the response was cynical. He instructed this reporter to raise this in the trial court, when the case comes up for hearing. When further probed if the police will change the charge after the findings of the post mortem report are released, Kumar said that the findings of the post mortem report suggest the opposite of what Kunwar’s family has said transpired on 14 April. He said that no injuries could be found on Kunwar's body.
When asked how then did Kunwar drop dead, Kumar replied, "People die all the time. Won't both of us die someday?"
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