Indian police suspended over death of low-caste Dalit man

People attend a protest rally against what they say are attacks on India's low-caste Dalit community in Ahmedabad on July 31, 2016.
People attend a protest rally against what they say are attacks on India's low-caste Dalit community in Ahmedabad on July 31, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Fourteen police officers have been suspended in India after a low-caste man was allegedly tortured and killed in custody, police said Friday (Aug 5).

Kamal Valmiki, from India's lowest Dalit caste, was found hanging inside a cell on Wednesday a day after he was detained on suspicion of robbery in Kanpur in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

His family accuse one police officer of torturing him to death in custody and then hanging his body to make it look like suicide.

"We have suspended 14 policemen including two officers for negligence," Kanpur police chief Shalabh Mathur told AFP.

Valmiki's family has said he was pressured to confess and brutally beaten when he refused.

Police are awaiting the results of the autopsy.

Hundreds of demonstrators have blocked a local highway to protest at the man's death and police atrocities against the Dalit community.

Custodial abuse is widespread in India and detainees are often tortured at police stations to extract confessions.

Right groups say the government has failed to keep its pledge to end the abuse.

National crime records bureau figures show more than 1,200 people were killed in police custody between 2000-2013.

But a 2012 report by the National Human Rights Commission said more than 12,000 people were killed in police stations or prisons across India between 2001 and 2010.