The FIR registered by the Crime Branch of Goa Police with regards to the custodial death of Cipriano Fernandes appears to be aimed more at shielding the errant police officers rather than providing justice to the innocent life that was snuffed out due to police excesses as no police officer has been named despite there being sufficient evidence to do so.
In the first place, the FIR is registered based on the report submitted by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Shabaji Shetye who has concluded that Cipriano died while in police custody. Surprisingly, even though the Magistrate has given a detailed account of the role of the police officers in the sordid saga by naming them, the FIR does not include a single name.
What is more shocking is the fact that even the departmental enquiry conducted by DySP Bossuet da Silva had found procedural lapses in the case and the officers guilty of them have been placed under suspension, but their names do not feature in the FIR.
As mentioned earlier by Goa Chronicle.com, Ryan Fernandes, the person who drove the Bolero jeep used by the police to pick up Cipriano from Porvorim has been named as an accused in the case, even though he was a key eyewitness to the case.
That is not all; the FIR is apparently manipulated with crucial timings changed probably to give the guilty police officers some leeway. The FIR is lodged against police personnel on duty at the Panjim Town Police Station from 10:30 pm on 7th January 2011 to 11:55 am on 8th January 2011.
According to the girl friend and Ryan, Cipriano was picked up from Porvorim at around 9:30 pm. There are court rulings clearly indicating that a person is considered to be in police custody from the time he or she comes in the hand of a police officer. Yet, the FIR notes the time as 10:30 pm presumably the time when according to the records Cipriano was arrested. However, from the time he was picked up, he was assaulted even in the jeep while transporting him to the police station. What about these actions and why should the concerned police personnel who brutalized Cipriano in the jeep be let scot free?
The closing time of 11:55 on 8th January 2011 is yet another manipulation as Cipriano was admitted to the hospital after 1:00 pm. In fact, witnesses saw Cipriano’s lifeless body lying at the police station post noon and not only saw but also deposed before the SDM naming the police official who kicked Cipriano to see whether he was alive. The 108 ambulance took Cipriano to the hospital at around 1:00 which means that he was at the police station for a good one hour five minutes after the closing time in the FIR. So why is the closing time brought ahead?
Besides, the Sub Divisional Magistrate issued the order releasing Cipriano from police custody on 8th January 2011 at 5:30 pm. This means that till then, technically, Cipriano was in police custody even though he was admitted to the hospital by then. So why is the FIR silent about this time? Is it because the police are now trying to find a scapegoat at GMC since one of the officers involved in the case has already claimed that the CT scan taken when Cipriano was admitted did not show any injuries, thereby implying that the head injuries that led to his death were inflicted at the hospital. Is it to aid this defense that the closing time has been deliberately manipulated?
Given the manner in which custodial death cases have been handled by the police in the past, whether it is the infamous Abdulla or Dattu Dessai case, it appears that once again an attempt is being made to shield the vagrant police officers who vent out their personal frustrations on innocent victims.