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Doubts over Delhi rape suspect's death in custody

Doubts over Delhi rape suspect's death in custody
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There are suspicions that the lead suspect in the Delhi bus gang-rape trial, driver Ram Singh, did not hang himself in his cell.

Singh was found dead on Monday morning in the cell he shared with three other inmates, hanging from a grille 2.3 metres from the ground. His rope was made with threads picked from the rug on which he slept. His family and lawyer suspect it was murder, not suicide.

“There has to be some foul play here. There were no circumstances which could have led to Ram Singh committing suicide. There was no mental stress,” said defence lawyer V.K. Anand.

Anand, who has always denied his client was subjected to torture, said Singh had been composed and calm when he saw him last on Friday, had no complaints, and was not on suicide watch.

But he added Singh “had a few complaints of jail authorities torturing him, but nothing that would make him take his own life”. He refused to elaborate on the claim of torture.

Singh was described by police as the ringleader of the gang rape involving five men and one juvenile last December. The victim, a 23-year old trainee physiotherapist, subsequently died of her injuries.

“It is possible that he committed suicide as a result of shame, public shame and depression,” said the Chairwoman of India’s National Commission for Women Mamta Sharma.

Lawyers say Singh’s death opens the door for the other defendants to claim he was the main instigator, forcing them to take part, and thus get more lenient punishments. An official inquiry has been opened into Singh’s death, which the Federal Interior Minister described as a “major lapse” in security.

A former director of Tihar jail, Kiran Bedi, said Singh should have been kept isolated from the main prison population.