ATM skimming suspect dies in police custody in Tripura, human rights group cries custodial torture

Debraj Deb
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A sentry guard found Sushanta hanging in the lavatory, Chakraborty claimed. (Representational Image)

A 38-year-old man accused of ATM skimming died in police custody at West Agartala Police Station in West Tripura district in the early hours of Sunday morning. The deceased was arrested from his residence Saturday based on interrogation of four Turkish cybercriminals who were arrested last November for ATM skimming in Agartala, officials said.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, officer-in-charge of West Agartala Police Station Subrata Chakraborty said Sushanta Ghosh, a resident of Lankamura village in West Tripura, was sent to police remand on Saturday for being allegedly connected to an international ATM skimming racket that stole millions from at least 60 bank accounts of Tripura.

“Cyber-crime sleuths arrested Sushanta from his residence at Lankamura; he was sent to police custody yesterday. He was found hanging inside the lavatory of the custody at 5:05 AM this morning,” Chakraborty said.

He further claimed Ghosh went to the lavatory at 3:54 AM yesterday and never came out. Later, a sentry guard found him hanging in the lavatory, Chakraborty claimed. Tripura Human Rights Organisation (THRO) president and a lawyer Purushottam Roy Barman alleged Ghosh's death was a case of custodial torture.

“We don’t have any doubt that this might be a case of custodial torture and death. Police are most likely trying to frame it as hanging. We don’t have any faith in police inquiry on a crime probably perpetrated by them. So, we demand a judicial inquiry on the issue,” Roy Barman told indianexpress.com.

Ghosh was sent to two days police remand and was supposed to be produced before the court again on Monday.

The police have, however, ruled out custodial torture and claimed it is in possession of CCTV footage in which Ghosh is seen entering the lavatory at 3:54 AM. “Though activities inside the lavatory are inaccessible since no cameras are installed there for privacy issues, there is certainly no question of custodial torture and it is a simple case of suicide,” Chakraborty claimed.

Last November, the Cyber Crime Unit of Tripura Police Crime Branch arrested four people, two Turkish nationals – Hakan Zanburkan, Fettah Aldemir, and two Bangladeshi nationals – Md. Hannan and Md Rafiqul Islam, from Belgharia in West Bengal for skimming millions through ATM skimming and ATM card cloning. The police suspects Sushanta provided logistic support for the fraud in Tripura.